Gauchos Fall to Wichita State, Houston in Day One of Houston Invitational

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

HOUSTON, Tex. - UCSB (0-2) dropped its first two games of the season at the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational, falling 6-1 to Wichita State (2-0) early Friday before losing to tournament host Houston (1-1) in five innings, 14-2, in the final game of the day.

Senior utility Kristen Clark led the Gauchos, hitting 3-4 through both games with one RBI and earning two of UCSB's three walks. Senior outfielder Jacqueline Hinojosa finished the day with a team-high 2 RBIs, while sophomore infielder Melanie Menor led the way with two runs.

Wichita State

After a scoreless first two innings, the Shockers struck first with two runs in the top of the third. With a runner on third and one out on the board, redshirt junior Paige Luellen opened the scoring with a home run to left field, putting Wichita State up 2-0.

The Shockers would add to their lead with another home run in the fifth inning, when Macklin Hitz hit a three-run homer down the left field line to make it 5-0. UCSB answered back with its first run of the season in the bottom of the fifth, as Hinojosa brought Menor home with a single through the right side. Two more Wichita runs in the sixth inning made it 6-1, which would be the eventual final score.

The Gauchos recorded just one hit fewer than the Shockers, picking up eight in total, but struggled to put up runs as they finished with seven runners left on base. Clark had a team-high two hits on a 2-3 performance and earned UCSB's only walk of the game.

In their freshmen debuts, first baseman Alyssa Diaz went 1-3 and pitcher Felisha Noriega tallied one strikeout after coming on for starting sophomore pitcher Veronika Gulvin (0-1). It was the Gauchos' only strikeout of the game.

Houston

Facing the tournament hosts, UCSB fell behind early, as four Cougars recorded RBIs in the first inning alone. Houston led 8-0 after the second.

The Gauchos fared much better in the top of the third, as their first three at bats all got on base. Menor got things started with a single through the left side. That was followed by senior outfielder Stacy Cavazos getting hit by a pitch. Clark then got the bases loaded with a single to third base.
Hinojosa would then step up to put UCSB on the scoreboard, bringing Menor home for the second time in the day to make it 8-1.

Unfortunately for the Gauchos, Houston would enjoy another six-run inning, giving the hosts a 14-1 advantage heading into the fourth. Clark would earn her first RBI of the season in the top of the fourth, helping junior right fielder Jessica Johnston earn her first run of the year on a sac fly to center field.

A scoreless fifth inning for UCSB would end the game in five innings at 14-2.

Clark was a perfect 1-1 with a walk in the Gauchos' second game. Menor also finished 1-1, while Johnston went 1-2.

UCSB brought four different pitchers to the mound, with junior Lena Mayer (0-1) getting the start. Mayer earned her first strikeout of the season, while Gulvin and freshman Lilliana Rodriguez tied for team-high honors with two strikeouts each.

Santa Barbara will be back in action tomorrow when it plays Wichita State (9:30 a.m.) for the second time this weekend and faces Wright State (11:30 a.m.).