The UC Santa Barbara softball team split a Big West Conference doubleheader on Friday evening at Cal State Fullerton’s Anderson Family Field. The Gauchos defeated the Titans 8-5 in the first game before Fullerton posted a 10-6 come-from-behind win in the night cap of the twinbill.
With the split, UCSB’s overall record stands at 29-24. The Gauchos are 12-8 in Big West games, which still ranks second in the conference standings, one game ahead of a three-way tie for third among Fullerton, Cal Poly and Cal State Northridge. Long Beach State wrapped up the conference championship on Friday after splitting a pair with Pacific. The 49ers will receive the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Fullerton now holds a 27-25-1 overall record and is 11-9 in Big West games.
Sophomore Christine Ramos opened the first game with a bunt single at the top of the order in the first before she stole second. One out later, junior Tiffany Wright singled to left field and an error by the left-fielder gave Wright enough time to reach second and Ramos the time to come home. Wright moved to third on the next play when Tisha Duran grounded out to the pitcher. Ericka Hansen followed with a walk, then stole second as Wright stole home to put UCSB ahead 2- 0.
The Gauchos extended their lead at the top of the next inning. Danielle Meyers led off with a walk before Priscilla Perez laid down a bunt single to put two runners on. Nicole Churnock followed with a sac bunt to move both runners to scoring position. Ramos singled to left field during the ensuing at-bat, driving a third Gaucho run across the plate.
Ziegler then reached on a fielder’s choice RBI that pushed the Gaucho advantage to 4-0.
Fullerton opened the bottom of the second with a single by Shelia Holguin, then loaded the bases on a walk, followed by a fielder’s choice. A ground out by Katie Goldhardt drove home the first Titan run of the day. After another walk, which once again loaded the bases, a ground out by Kiki Munoz sent another run across home plate, cutting the Gaucho lead to 4-2.
At the bottom of the fourth, the Titans once again loaded the bases and were able to add one more run to their total when Lauren Lupinetti hit a sac fly.
Leading by just one run at the top of the sixth, UCSB’s Perez and Churnock posted back-to-back singles before Ramos tripled to center field, sending both runners home.
Ramos was called out at home on a fielder’s choice during the next play, but it was a only momentary hiccup in the Gaucho onslaught as Wright and Duran followed with singles. Duran’s hit drove home the third UCSB run of the inning. Wright and Duran each advanced on a wild pitch before an error by the Titan shortstop allowed Jessica Beristianos to reach first and Wright to score. Fullerton ended the inning on the same play as they caught Duran at third, but UCSB had extended its lead to 8-3.
At the bottom of the same inning, the Titans loaded the bases with no outs before the Gauchos made a pitching change from Lindsey Correa to MeLinda Matsumoto. Fullerton managed two runs off of an RBI single by Lupinetti and a fielder’s choice RBI from Torrie Anderson to cut the UCSB advantage to 8-5. Both teams were scoreless in the final inning as the Gauchos held on for the win.
Ramos led the Gauchos at the plate going 3-for-5 with three RBI, a triple, a stolen base and a run scored. Wright also had three hits and two runs while also tallying a stolen base. Beristianos was also impressive, posting two doubles in the win.
The Gauchos tallied a total of 13 hits, and with their eight runs surpassed the school record for runs in a season set at 218 by the 2000 squad. UCSB has posted 232 total runs this season.
In the circle, Correa (11-7) earned the win after pitching five innings and allowing five runs on five hits with seven walks and two strikeouts. Matsumoto earned her first career save after pitching the final two innings and allowing no runs and three hits with one strikeout.
Christine Hiner took the loss for the Titans after throwing 5.1 innings and allowing eight runs, five earned, on 13 hits with two walks and one strikeout. Ari Cervantes finished the game, tossing 1.2 innings walking just one and striking out three.
Wright opened game two with a two-run homer in the top of the first inning. The home run brought Wright’s career tally to 22, one short of tying the school record of 23 set by Tonya Dias in 2000.
The Gauchos then loaded the bases before Meyers earned a walk, stretching the lead to 3-0. Perez followed with an RBI single to the right side to put the Gauchos ahead 4-0.
UCSB added one more run to their tally in the second when Ziegler singled to the shortstop and was then brought home on a double hit deep into center field by Wright.
Fullerton rallied back in the bottom of the second. Anderson and Holguin posted back-to-back base hits and were both pushed over a base on a sac bunt by Jenna Wheeler. Crystal Viyera homered over the ceter field fence, putting the Titans on the board and cutting the UCSB lead to 5-3.
At the bottom of the fifth, Katie Gollhardt was able to reach on a Gaucho error, then advanced to second on a wild pitch. K.C. Craddick then singled before another error allowed Munoz to reach first and Gollhardt to come home. A sac fly by Anderson and a single off the bat of Holguin each sent home one more Titan run as Fullerton took their first lead of the day at 6-5.
Fullerton continued its rally in the sixth when Munoz hit a three-run homer with two outs to stretch the advantage to 9-5. The Titans brought their count to 10 unanswered runs during the following at-bat when Lauren Lupinetti hit a home run over the center field fence.
Trailing 10-5, UCSB opened the top of the seventh with a single to right field off the bat of Wright. Duran reached on a fielder’s choice during the ensuing play and Wright was called out at second. Hansen followed with a walk to put to runners on before Beristianos hit another fielder’s choice, which sent Duran home. Unfortunately for the Gauchos, that would be the final run of the game as the Titans turned a double play to secure the 10-6 win.
Wright led the team in the loss, going 3-for-4 with her two-run homer and an additional RBI. Ziegler was also solid, going 2-for-3 with two runs, a double and a walk.
In the circle, Matsumoto (8-11) took the loss after tossing six innings and allowing 10 runs, seven of which were earned, on nine hits with two walks. For Fullerton, Hiner (14-12) picked up the win after tossing the final five innings and giving up just one unearned run on three hits with two walks and a strikeout.
UCSB will finish the series with Fullerton at noon Saturday at the Titans’ Anderson Family Field.
Lisa Skvarla is UCSB’s assistant media relations director.