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No. 14 Long Beach State Takes Two from UCSB

49ers muscle Gauchos out of first place in Big West Conference.

No. 14 Long Beach State captured the Big West Conference lead Saturday after posting a pair of wins over UCSB at Campus Diamond. The squads were tied for the top spot heading into the series, but the 49ers took game one, 8-6, before using a strong seventh inning to overpower the Gauchos, 5-2, in the second.

With the losses, UCSB fell to 24-20 on the season and 7-4 in Big West games. After jumping out to a 6-0 start in conference, the Gauchos have lost four of their last five Big West contests. Long Beach State improves to 33-11 overall and 9-2 in the Big West.

The day did have its high points for the Gauchos, most notably senior Tisha Duran’s two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth inning during game one. The home run brought Duran’s season total to 12, which ties the Gauchos single season home run record set by Lindsey Herrin in 2005. The two RBIs during the same play helped the senior from Ventura College and Buena High reach 46 total, which marks a new single-season RBI record, surpassing the 44 hit by Jami Trinidad in 2004.

Long Beach opened the first game with a leadoff walk by Jessica Beaver and Jonae Perez quickly bunted her over to second. Brooke LeSage’s home run over the left field fence during the next at-bat quickly put the 49ers on the board, 2-0. The Gauchos made a pitching change from Lindsey Correa to MeLinda Matsumoto, but that didn’t stop the Long Beach rally as Jennifer Griffin homered to right field on the next play. Matsumoto earned two straight outs to end the inning, but the Gauchos trailed, 3-0.

Lacy Tyler opened the fourth with a lead-off double to center field. Ashley Levine’s bunt should have been a mere sacrifice, but bad defensive positioning by the Gauchos allowed her to reach, putting two runners on with no outs. Ashley Weber’s sacrifice bunt pushed both runners over one base before a ground out to second base by Brianna Goad brought home Tyler and a Gauchos error allowed Levine to score an unearned run, stretching the lead to 5-0.

With one out in the bottom of the same inning, sophomore Jessica Ziegler singled to left field before the next batter struck out swinging. Duran was next up and she pounded one over the right field fence to put the Gauchos on the board, 5-2. Freshman Jessica Beristianos doubled during the ensuing at-bat, but a foul ball caught by the 49ers catcher ended the inning.

Long Beach State’s Griffin hit an RBI single in the top of the fifth and a fielder’s choice by Levine helped her score, stretching the 49ers lead to 7-2 in the top of the fifth. UCSB responded in the bottom of the same inning when junior Christine Ramos hit a fielder’s choice to send home Mary Episcopo for a Gauchos run.

The UCSB offense continued to fight back in the sixth inning when junior Tiffany Wright led off with a home run over the left field fence. Duran then walked before a fielder’s choice followed by a series of 49ers errors allowed Beristianos to reach third and Duran to come home, putting the Gauchos within one at 7-6.

LeSage was hit by a pitch in the top of the seventh and advanced to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Danielle Linke reached on a Gauchos throwing error to put two runners on. Tyler’s single sent home LeSage before UCSB was able to take the next two batters down in order.

Senior Nicole Churnock reached on an error in the bottom of the seventh and, one out later, she attempted to reach third when Ziegler singled to right field. The 49ers beat her to third base to get the second out and a foul fly ended the game in Long Beach State’s favor, 8-6.

Brooke Turner picked up the win after tossing a complete game, allowing six runs, three earned, on six hits with one walk and three strikeouts. She improves to 21-4 on the season.

Correa took the loss for UCSB after giving up two earned runs on one hit with a walk in the first inning. She falls to 10-7 on the year. Matsumoto pitched 6.2 innings, allowing six runs, five earned, on 10 hits with no walks and no strikeouts.

Ziegler led the Gauchos, going 2-for-4 with a run, while Duran was 1-for-2 with two RBIs, a walk and two runs in the loss.

The teams, which rank one and two defensively in the Big West, combined for seven total errors in the contest. Long Beach committed four and the Gauchos three.

The second game was all about the seventh inning for both teams. The 49ers loaded the bases in the top of the second and left two on base in the fifth, but it was not until the seventh that they were able to get a run across.

Pitcher Bridgette Pagano singled to second base to open the seventh inning, but the Gauchos got her out during a fielder’s choice by Goad during the next play. A Beaver home run over the center field fence put the 49ers on the board, 2-0. Perez was hit by a pitch in the ensuing at-bat and LeSage doubled to put two runners on.

Griffin followed suit with a double to right field, bringing both runners across home plate. Linke’s single followed before pitcher Tami Weston struck out Tyler looking. A walk followed before Long Beach’s Pagano came up for her second at-bat of the inning. She singled again, sending Griffin home and stretching the lead to 5-0. The next batter struck out swinging, ending the Long Beach onslaught.

After Duran grounded out to the shortstop at the top of the order, Beristianos reached after being hit by a pitch. Ericka Hansen‘s single up the middle followed by an error in center field allowed the runner to cross home plate, getting the Gauchos on the board. Episcopo grounded out to send Hansen home, but it would be the final run of the game as UCSB fell, 5-2.

Pagano picked up the complete-game victory after allowing two runs, one earned, on five hits with one walk and two strikeouts. She improves to 12-7 on the year. Weston took the loss after allowing five runs on nine hits. She walked four and had six strikeouts. She falls to 8-5 on the season.

Hansen led the Gauchos with a 2-for-2 showing with a run and a walk. Sophomore Priscilla Perez was 2-for-3 at the plate for UCSB.

The Gauchos will conclude the three-game series with Long Beach State at noon Sunday at Campus Diamond.

Lisa Skvarla is UCSBs assistant media relations director.

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