SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In a doubleheader highlighted by late game theatrics, UC Santa Barbara split a pair of high scoring decisions with Hawai'i at Campus Diamond.
UCSB is now 29-18 overall and stands at 9-5 in conference play, trailing first-place Long Beach State by three games. Hawai'i meanwhile moves to 20-23 and 5-9 in the Big West.
Emily Brucelas led the Gauchos with five hits on the day, including the game-saving home run to force extras in the series opener. MeShalon Moore came up with arguably the biggest shot of the day with the walk off two-run homer to clinch the 9-8 game one win for UCSB.
As the teams competed for a total of 17 innings, Shelby Wisdom led both clubs with 14 innings pitched. The junior picked up her 17th win of the season in the first game as she recorded three strikeouts. She has now matched her wins total from a season ago with seven more games left in the regular season.
The first game featured both teams trading runs until the Rainbow Wahine jumped ahead 8-6 after a two-run sixth inning.
After displays of late game heroics by two underclassmen, UCSB needed similar performances to compete in game two. Facing the two-run deficit, the Gauchos had one out as Lauren Boser drew a walk in the bottom of the seventh. During the following at bat, Brucelas came through with her fifth homer of the year to force the game into extra innings.
Hawai'i put the pressure on with a lead off homer to start the eighth inning, but Wisdom denied the Rainbow Wahine another base as she retired the next three batters. The pitcher batted second in the bottom of the inning and reached first as the game-tying run off a single hit through the right side. That set the stage for MeShalon Moore who picked the ideal moment for her first home run of the season, as her two-run shot sealed the hard fought victory for UCSB.
The Gauchos entered the bottom of the seventh down 8-2, Stacy Cavazos led off with a single after slyly placing a bunt down the third baseline. After a groundout and a pass ball, she found herself at third as Arianna Palomares took the batter's box. The sophomore ignited the rally with a single blasted up the middle.
In a pinch hitting scenario, Samantha Stark made her first appearance of the game and came through with a single that mirrored Palomares's to keep the inning alive. The Gauchos would continue on to score thanks to a pair of singles, a walk, and a sacrifice fly. Brucelas showed a flair for game-tying hits today, as she again came up with the play to force extra innings. This time, she bolted a two-RBI single down the left field line to tie the game at 8.
The Rainbow Wahine, though, spoiled the comeback as Leisha Li'ili'i delivered the game winning solo shot in the ninth inning.
UCSB will take on Hawai'i in the series rubber game tomorrow at Campus Diamond starting at 12 p.m. Tickets are available at the main entrance or online here.