SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In ending a rubber match that was gridlocked at 2-2 since the third inning, Arianna Palomares delivered the walk off single up the middle to clinch UCSB (19-32, 6-12) the 3-2 victory over UC Riverside (36-17, 8-10) at Campus Diamond.
The single sealed the series for the Gauchos who have now won four of its past five games.
Even before she took her at bat in the seventh, Palomares was already enjoying a great game against the Highlanders. The second baseman finished with a team-best 2-4 performance at the plate and drove in two of UCSB's three runs. Kristen Clark picked up two hits on the day as well and scored two runs.
It was senior day for the Gauchos, as all three were featured in the starting lineup. Jenessa Jeppesen made the start at first, while DeJanee Moore and Shelby Wisdom assumed their typical positions of third base and designated player, respectively. Altogether, the seniors combined for three walks in the game.
In the circle, Ashley Ludlow (6-18) pitched a gem after coming in a relief role. In her 5 1/3 innings of work, the junior blanked the Highlanders, as she fanned three batters and limited them to just two hits. Pitching for Riverside was this season's Big West leader in pitching victories Chelsea Ponce who was dealt a loss that moved her record to 27-10.
As they did in the first game, the Highlanders scored early in getting two runs in the first. With Lena Mayer in the circle, UCR initially got on the bags with a walk and an infield single. Senior Karina Romero got the runners across with the help of a fielding error after she singled to right. Mayer limited the damage though, as she retired the next two batters with fly outs.
Following a scoreless second inning, Palomares came up with her first scoring play of the game in poking an RBI single through the left side. With runners on first and second, Palomares delivered the hit and advanced to second off an error from the left fielder, which also allowed Jacqueline Hinojosa come in as the game tying run.
Through the next four innings, Ludlow tossed a pair of three up, three down innings and gave up just one single to UCR. She kept UCSB competitive down the stretch and set the stage for the walk off victory.
Clark first led off with a single to the shortstop and was promptly moved into scoring position off Hinojosa's groundout to second. Palomares then worked her way to a full count before singling up the middle for the game winner. UCSB has now two consecutive conference series.
The Gauchos will wrap up their 2016 season with a visit to Long Beach State. The series opening doubleheader on Friday May 8 will be featured on ESPN3 with first pitch scheduled for one o'clock, while the season finale will take place on Saturday May 9 starting at 1 p.m.