Santa Barbara, Calif. – On an eventful day at Campus Diamond, UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State split the doubleheader setting up a showdown for the Big West title on Saturday afternoon. For UCSB they will be playing for the chance at their first ever title. Shelby Wisdom picked up a win in the second game of the day, giving her 63 for her career breaking the Gauchos all-time record.
In the first of a three game series that will determine who at least gets a share of the Big West title, UC Santa Barbara (33-19) was unable to hold a late lead against Long Beach State (37-16) and fell 7-5. With the loss, the Gauchos must win both of their remaining games with the 49ers to become Big West champions.
The game got off to a rousing start in the first inning, as both teams scored a total of nine runs.
In the top of the inning. Long Beach used power to take an early 4-0 lead, hitting three consecutive home runs with one out.
In the bottom half, the Gauchos took advantage of a couple 49ers errors and used small ball to score five runs. With the bases loaded and one out, Kathryn Pilpil singled to left as the runners moved station to station. After a DeJanee Moore pop out, Lauren Boser hit a clutch single to left. The hit was going to score two runs, but with Boser attempting to advance to second on the throw home, the Long Beach first baseman caught the cutoff and fired the ball over the second baseman's head into right center, allowing both Arianna Palomares and Boser to come around to home plate.
The 49ers came close to tying the game in both the third and fifth innings, but Gauchos star pitcher Shelby Wisdom was able to stymie both opportunities. Long Beach loaded the bases in the third only to hit a line out to third and a dribbler to first to end the frame. In the fifth, Long Beach was able to get a runner in scoring position with one out, but a pair of groundouts kept the Gauchos on top.
It was not until the sixth that the 49ers finally caught up. With one out and a runner on second, a double to left center evened the score at 5-5.
The Gauchos threatened to take back the lead in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with two outs. Unfortunately for Santa Barbara, Pilpil struck out to keep the game tied.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, a two run homer off the left field fence gave the 49ers the lead for good and gave them a huge advantage in the conference title race.
Cal Poly entered the day one game behind both UCSB and Long Beach, needing to sweep their last series of the year to be able to share the conference title.
UC Santa Barbara (34-19, 14-6) battled back in the second game to even the series and set up a showdown for the Big West title on Saturday. The Gauchos defeated Long Beach State (37-17, 14-6) by a score of 6-3. Wisdom's 63rd career victory gave her the school record over Sandy Ortgies (1984-87). The win also tied the team mark for total wins in a season.
Wisdom (22-13) carries a 3.25 ERA in 248 innings pitched this season. In the second game of the doubleheader, Wisdom held the 49ers at bay with just four hits and three earned runs in her sixth straight complete game.
UCSB managed five hits but left four runners on base in the first two innings and were unable to score. They would, however get a much needed run in the bottom of the third to take a 1-0 lead
With one out, Wisdom smoked a double to left field. She would advance to third on a pass ball and MeShalon Moore hit a deep fly ball to left for the sacrifice fly.
Long Beach State would bounce right back in the top of the fourth, bringing home three runs on three hits and two walks in the inning to take a 3-1 lead.
Looking to keep their title hopes alive and not to be outdone, the Gauchos put together a big fourth inning of their own. Lauren Boser hit a sharp line drive that the left fielder mishandled for an error allowing Boser to reach second. Emily Brucelas followed by roping the first pitch she saw down the left field line for an RBI double. After a strikeout by DeJanee Moore, Stacy Cavazos singled to right to score Brucelas from second and tie the game 3-3.
Later in the inning with two outs, Arianna Palomares singled past the pitcher to bring Cavazos home from second and put the Gauchos up 4-3. MeShalon Moore would break the game open with a bases clearing triple down the right field line scoring Wisdom, who walked, and Palomares for a 6-3 lead.
Wisdom would retire the final nine batters in a row to ensure the victory and set the stage for the series finale.
The winner of tomorrow's game will clinch at least a share of the Big West championship. If Cal Poly loses any of their last three games versus UC Riverside, the winner of tomorrow's game will take the title outright.
UCSB and Long Beach State face off tomorrow at Campus Diamond at 12:00 p.m. It will be Senior Day for the Gauchos marking the last home game for Kathryn Pilpil, Andriana Collins, Jessica Reichner and Lauren Boser.