Gauchos Split Doubleheader with Fullerton to Open Big West Play

MeShalon Moore (Photo by Tony Mastres)
MeShalon Moore (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. –UCSB opened Big West play in splitting its doubleheader with Cal State Fullerton at Campus Diamond on Saturday afternoon.

The Gauchos improve to 12-21 on the season with a 1-1 mark in conference, while the Titans move to 23-13 and 1-1 in the Big West. 

MeShalon Moore paced the team with four hits, including a solo shot in the first game, while the Gaucho offense thrived in two-out rallies throughout the twin bill. In fact, all of UCSB's 12 runs were scored in two-out scenarios. 

In tomorrow's 12 p.m. rubber match, UCSB will be vying for its first series win against the Titans since 2008, and their first as the home team since 2004.

GAME ONE

UCSB battled back after being down 5-1 to take their first win of the Big West season with an 8-6 comeback.

The Gauchos trailed through the majority of the game until Arianna Palomares took the batter's box in the bottom of the sixth. UCSB was behind 6-5 at that point with two outs and runners on the corners. Fittingly, the Big West's doubles leader (13) cleared the bases with a double to the center field wall to put the Gauchos ahead 7-6. Shelby Wisdom added some insurance for UCSB's lead in lining to shallow center field to bring Palomares home.

Lena Mayer (4-3) made quick business of the Titans in the seventh inning, as she faced only four batters in sealing her third consecutive win. The freshman pitched the final five innings of the game and allowed just four hits and an earned run. 

MeShalon Moore uncorked a towering solo shot in the second to put the Gauchos on the board, but Cal State Fullerton responded with two runs the following inning, including a leadoff homer, to jump out ahead 5-1.

The Gauchos slowly chipped away at the Titans' lead throughout the game, starting with two runs in the third. UCSB loaded the bases after Kristen Clark's single and back-to-back walks from Palomares and Wisdom. Fullerton picked up two outs before Samantha Stark's at bat, but the first baseman kept the inning going with a single up the middle for two RBI, which put the Gauchos within one run. 

After the Titans regained a two-run advantage, UCSB came back in the bottom of the fifth with yet another two-out rally to stay in contention. Jacqueline Hinojosa got on base with an infield single, and was crossed home plate three at bats later when MeShalon Moore blasted a double to deep center field. The Gauchos picked up another run after center fielder Courtney Rodriguez dropped a fly ball, which gave Moore the green light to score.

Emily Brucelas, Clark, and Moore all led the team with two hits each, while Palomares picked up a pair of walks. The second baseman also racked up a pair of RBI along with Moore and Stark.

GAME TWO 

Cal State Fullerton thwarted UCSB's bid for the doubleheader sweep with a four-run seventh inning, which led to the eventual final score of 8-4.

The Moore sisters each had two hits in the game, while Emily Brucelas delivered the team's biggest hit of the game with an RBI double. In the circle, Ashley Ludlow was credited with the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) through her 4 2/3 innings of work. Lena Mayer came in for relief and gave up as many runs, though only one was earned.

The Gauchos first got on the board in the first inning with MeShalon Moore roping a single down the right field line. Runners were on the corners for the junior, as she sent in Kristen Clark home from third to even the score at 1-1.

In the fourth, UCSB grabbed the lead despite opening the inning with back-to-back outs. DeJanee Moore kept UCSB alive with a single to right center, while Brucelas followed her with a walk. Sophomore Stacy Cavazos came up with the scoring play with a single dropped into center field, which put UCSB ahead 2-1.

As Fullerton rattled off three runs in the fifth, the Gauchos answered back with two more runs to tie the game again. UCSB established a trend of scoring in two-out rallies during the doubleheader, and the sixth inning was no exception. 

DeJanee Moore first reached base with a single to the shortstop, and Brucelas quickly sent her home with a double blasted to center field. After starting pitcher Jasmine Antunez threw a wild pitch and walked Cavazos, the Titans opted to intentionally walk Clark to load the bases and bring Christina Washington into the circle for relief. The pitching change did not faze Jacqueline Hinojosa, as she coolly hit a first pitch single to center in tying the game. 

Fullerton went on to reclaim its lead with four runs in the seventh and sat comfortably ahead of UCSB at 8-4. Though MeShalon Moore singled in the bottom of the inning, she was the only Gaucho to reach base, as Washington sealed the win in forcing three infield outs.