SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- In it's final game of the San Diego Classic II on Sunday, UCSB got off to a good start with an early 3-0 lead against the tournament's hosts. However, the resilient Aztecs (18-10) came away victorious thanks to a one-run walk-off homer by Molly Sturdivant in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 6-5 win.
The loss gave the Gauchos a 1-4 record for the entire weekend.
Santa Barbara found early success scoring more than half of their runs in the first inning. Freshman first baseman Sierra Altmeyer got the Gauchos on the scoreboard with a ground-rule double to center field in the top of the first, bringing home sophomore leadoff hitter Kristen Clark.
Third baseman Emily Brucelas followed up Altmeyer's double in a big way, hitting a two-run homer to center field to make it 3-0. The junior finished 2-4 with one run and two RBI while notching her team-leading fourth home run and UCSB's 15th this season.
In the second inning, Melanie Menor made it 4-0 on an unearned run after Clark grounded out to second base.
Although the Gauchos enjoyed a sizable lead through two innings, the rest of the game told a much different story as the Aztecs quickly began their comeback.
In the bottom of the third, the Gauchos put themselves in a hole with a pair of fielding errors. The second error came on a Zaria Meshack single to the left side that led to unearned runs for both Sydnee Cable and Frankie Orlando to cut the lead in half at 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Meshack scored a run of her own off a sac fly by Sam Vlot, making it 4-3. Meshack finished the game as her team's best offensive producer going 2-3 with one run and two RBI.
After an efficient three runs on their first three hits, through the final five innings, UCSB was able to manage just one more run despite recording 10 more hits. The Gauchos left nine runners on base over that stretch, giving them 10 LOB for the game.
Santa Barbara finally found offensive success again in the top of the sixth, recording a game-high four hits in the inning. Unfortunately, Clark was the only Gaucho to round the bases, scoring on a Jessica Johnston single to double her team's lead at 5-3.
Facing a two-run deficit, the Aztecs came up clutch in the final two innings. Meshack picked up her second RBI in the bottom of the sixth, reaching on a fielder's choice to score Aris Metcalfe. Jaylene Ignacio tied the game on the next at bat by scoring on a run on a single up the middle by Samantha Camello.
After UCSB was held scoreless in the top of the seventh inning, pitcher Veronika Gulvin (4-7) came to the mound to face just her second at bat of the game in Sturdivant. Unfortunately for the freshman, Sturdivant would be the final batter she faced, as she blasted a walk-off home run to left field to give the Aztecs the 6-5 win.
As a team, the Gauchos hit 13-31 on the day, giving them their fourth highest hit total of the season.
UCSB will be back in action this Thursday when they begin the Gaucho Classic II against CSU Bakersfield and Seattle at 11:45 a.m. and 4:15 p.m., respectively.