UCSB Uses Late Comeback to Defeat Wright State, Earn First Win

Emily Brucelas (Photo by Scott Quintard)
Emily Brucelas (Photo by Scott Quintard)

HOUSTON, Tex. - In the second day of the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational, UCSB (1-3) used a four-run seventh inning to defeat Wright State (1-2) 12-10 and earn its first win of the season. Freshman shortstop Kayla Krantz went 2-3 at the plate for a team-high three RBIs, all of which came on her first career home run in the top of the fifth.

The Gauchos also dropped their first game of the day, 7-3, to Wichita State (3-0) in the two teams' second meeting this weekend.

Wichita State

In a rematch with the Shockers, UCSB fell behind early, trailing 6-0 after two innings. Just as she did on Friday, redshirt junior Paige Luellen hit a home run, this time putting three runs on the board in the second inning.

The Gauchos earned their first runs of the day in the bottom of the fifth, as sophomore Whitney Pemberton hit her first ever home run to left field, also scoring freshman first baseman Alyssa Diaz.

Diaz would earn an RBI in the next inning with a walk, as senior outfielder Jacqueline Hinojosa scored to make it 6-3.

The deficit would increase to 7-3 after senior Macklin Hitz scored on a solo home run in the top of the seventh. The Gauchos would record a single hit in the bottom of the seventh, with senior left fielder Kristen Clark making it to second base before the Shockers were able to close out the game.

UCSB finished the game with six hits from six different players. Freshman pitcher Felisha Noriega (0-1) earned her first career start, but freshman Lilliana Rodriguez would play the majority of the game, tallying a team-leading two strikeouts.

Wright State

UCSB would bounce back quickly from its early-morning loss to Wichita State to earn its first win of the year, 12-10, in a back-and-forth affair with Wright State.

The top of the first inning saw the Gauchos take their first lead of the young season, as senior third baseman Emily Brucelas hit a double to left field to bring home Diaz and sophomore second baseman Sierra Altmeyer, making it 2-0. The Raiders tied it at 2-2 in the bottom of the first.

After a scoreless second inning, UCSB regained the lead in the third. After stealing third, Altmeyer was able to make it home for an unearned run on a Wright State throwing error.

Once again, the Raiders would have an answer, as they took a 5-3 lead with three runs in the third. They would extend that lead to 6-3 in the fourth, as senior Libby Pfeffer scored the second of her game-high three runs.

In the top of the fifth, UCSB enjoyed its best inning of the weekend up to that point, scoring four runs to snatch the lead back at 7-6. First, it was Krantz who stepped up, as she earned her first 3 RBIs of the season with a homer to left center, bringing Altmeyer and Pemberton home. Next, it was junior center fielder Jessica Johnston, who put UCSB back up by one with a solo home run to center field.

Diaz helped add to the lead in the top of the sixth, making it 8-6 off a single from Altmeyer. The Raiders answered back once again with four more runs, three of which came on a home run by sophomore Macy Cook.

Trailing 10-8 in the top of the seventh, the Gauchos were able to put together another well-timed four-run inning. Krantz got the scoring started with her second run of the game off a single from Hinojosa. Johnston would then tie it at 10-10 as Diaz grounded out to first base on the following at bat. A wild pitch then brought Clark home, giving UCSB the lead again at 11-10, and Altmeyer capped off the inning with a single up the middle to score Hinojosa.

In the bottom of the seventh, Rodriguez (1-0) was able to keep the Raiders without a hit, getting outs on the first three batters she faced to end the game.

Clark was a perfect 3-3 against Wright State as she tallied one run and two walks. Hinojosa and Diaz both went 1-4 with an RBI. Hinojosa also added a run while Diaz finished with two.

Altmeyer tied for game-high honors with three runs, hitting 2-3 for two RBIs and earning two walks. Brucelas went just 1-5 on the day, but her two-run double in the first gave her two RBIs as well. Krantz hit 2-3 with three RBIs and two runs. Johnston was a perfect 2-2 with two runs and one RBI.

The Gauchos had a 9-3 advantage in walks and a 3-0 advantage in strikeouts. They will play their final game of the weekend tomorrow against Boston College (6:30 a.m.).