CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. – For the second time already this season, UCSB (4-8) used a four-run seventh inning to earn a late comeback victory, defeating No. 20 Missouri (7-5) 6-5 on day three of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Sophomore second baseman Sierra Altmeyer, who came into the game with one home run this season, smashed two of them against the Tigers, including a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh.
Trailing by as many as four runs in the sixth inning, the Gauchos' came back to earn their first win over a ranked opponent since a home doubleheader sweep of No. 23 Houston back on Feb. 23, 2012.
All four of UCSB's runs in the bottom of the seventh came with two outs on the board. With runners on first and third, freshman first baseman Alyssa Diaz managed to get on base thanks to a crucial Missouri error. This led to unearned runs by both junior Jessica Johnston and senior Stacy Cavazos, cutting the Tigers' lead to just one at 5-4 and setting the stage for Altmeyer's heroics.
After freshman Nicole Marino came in to pinch run for Diaz, Altmeyer stepped up to hit her third home run in her last two games, ending the game at 6-5 with her second and third RBIs of the day. She finished a perfect 4-4 at the plate to go along with two runs.
The four hits were a career-high, while the two home runs were the most Altmeyer has had since her first career game, when she also hit two home runs against Purdue (Feb. 12, 2016). With the outstanding performance, she has become the Gauchos' top slugger for the first time year, improving her season slugging percentage to .730.
The run was also the first of Marino's young career, coming in her first ever appearance.
Altmeyer's first home run had come in the bottom of the sixth, cutting what was a 5-1 Missouri lead to three.
UCSB was held scoreless through four innings, trailing 3-0 after the second and 4-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth. After their first three runners came up with singles in the bottom of the sixth, the Gauchos' got their first run of the day from senior Jacqueline Hinojosa following a walk from redshirt freshman Whitney Pemberton with the bases loaded.
The Tigers would get a solo home run of their own in the top of the sixth from senior Kirsten Mack to make it 5-1 prior to UCSB's 5-0 game-clinching run. The five Missouri runs were the third-fewest the Gauchos have allowed this season. UCSB is now 4-2 in games decided by three runs or less.
Santa Barbara tallied nine hits compared to the Tigers' six. Johnston finished with the second-most hits on the team, going 2-4 with one run.
Sophomore pitcher Veronika Gulvin (3-3) earned her third win of the season after tallying two strikeouts and allowing just two runs in just under six innings pitched.
The Gauchos will play their final two games of the weekend tomorrow against No. 8 Washington (11:30 a.m.) and No. 21 Arizona State (2 p.m.)