Late-Game Heroics Lift UCSB to Wins Over South Carolina, Georgia Tech

Kristen Clark (Photo by Scott Quintard)
Kristen Clark (Photo by Scott Quintard)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – With some late-game heroics, UCSB (6-6) swept its first day of the Gaucho Classic I with a 4-3 against South Carolina and a 6-4 victory over Georgia Tech. 

Four Gauchos (Kristen Clark, Jessica Johnston, Melanie Menor, Arianna Palomares) finished with three hits between the two games, while Johnston led the team with three RBIs.

In the circle, freshmen Claudia Puente and Ashley Wright each earned their first wins as Gauchos after both pitched in relief efforts during their respective games.

UCSB will continue tournament play tomorrow with an 8:30 a.m. game against South Carolina and a 1 p.m. match up with Georgia Tech. Tickets for the remainder of tournament are available and can be purchased at the Ticketing Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building, over the phone at 805.893.UCSB (8272), or online.

SOUTH CAROLINA

The Gauchos showed their flair for theatrics in their tournament opening game with South Carolina. The Gamecocks had shutout UCSB through the first six and a half innings, but all that changed in the bottom of the seventh when the Gaucho offense came to life and scored four runs, pulling off the 4-3 comeback win.

In the game-deciding inning, Jacqueline Hinojosa led off with a walk, but she was followed by a fielder's choice and a foul out, leaving UCSB with a runner on first and down to its final out. The Gauchos stayed alive thanks to Ashley Wright who came in to pinch hit and singled down the left field line.

With runners on first and second, UCSB had the top of its lineup on deck starting with Kristen Clark. The junior came through with a single through the left side, loading the bases for Arianna Palomares.

Representing the game-winning run, Palomares brought the first of Gaucho runs home with a clutch single hit to right field and also moved Clark to third base. 

While hits kept the Gauchos in fighting shape, it was two walks that would tie the game, as Jessica Johnston and Sierra Altmeyer drew back-to-back walks.

But the team was not finished yet. With what proved to be the game's final at bat, Emily Brucelas belted the walk off single up the middle to send Palomares home, completing the comeback effort. 

In the seventh inning alone, the Gauchos hit four of their game-high seven hits. Clark and Palomares each had two hits, while the latter's two RBI were a team high.

In the circle, Claudia Puente (1-0) picked up her first career win after pitching 1.1 innings in relief of starter Ashley Ludlow. Puente held South Carolina scoreless in her time in the circle and gave up just one walk. Ludlow tossed the opening 5.2 innings and struck out four batters, while allowed three runs (all earned) from six hits.

GEORGIA TECH

UCSB earned its second come from behind win of the day against Georgia Tech at the Gaucho Classic. 

Freshman Melanie Menor led the Gauchos on offense going 3-for-3 at the plate with one run. Sophomore Jessica Johnston also had multiple hits, as well as one run scored and three RBIs. Seven out of the nine gauchos in the lineup had at least one hit, totaling 10 in the game.

Georgia Tech struck first in the top of the second inning with help from two UCSB errors. Both Kaylee Ellebracht and Draven Sonnon scored after a Kelsey Chisholm pop up was lost in the sun by shortstop Melanie Menor. Another Yellow Jacket would also come around to score after a throw got away from Gaucho catcher Samantha Stark

Hitting was contagious for the Gauchos in the bottom of the third as Palomares, Johnston, Altmeyer, and Brucleas hit four consecutive singles in a two-out rally to come within one run of Georgia Tech, 3-2. 

Draven Sonnon led off for the Yellow Jackets in the top of the sixth with a loud homer off the baseball batting cages in left center field. However, freshman pitchers Veronika Gulvin and Ashley Wright quieted Georgia Tech's offense thereafter. Wright came with two outs in the sixth, after Gulvin gave up a single through the left side by Kelsey Chisholm. 

Wright picked up her first win of the season after not allowing any of the four batters she faced to reach a base.

Jacqueline Hinojosa singled up the middle to start off the Gauchos four run sixth inning. Hinojosa would eventually score after Kristen Clark was hit by a pitch- also advancing Melanie Menor to third and pinch runner Jessica Tetzlaff to second. Again, UCSB had luck from a two out rally as Jessica Johnston hit her 3 RBI single into center field, giving the Gauchos the lead, and the eventual victory over Georgia Tech 6-4.