Gauchos Win Yet Another Close One, Defeat LBSU 4-3 in Rubber Match

Kristen Clark (Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge)
Kristen Clark (Photo by Lyndsay Radnedge)

LONG BEACH, Calif. – After trailing 2-0 early in Sunday's rubber match at Long Beach State (20-22-1, 8-4), UCSB (27-21, 7-5) came back to score four of the final five runs of the day, taking a 4-3 victory and winning its third consecutive conference series. Redshirt freshman Whitney Pemberton scored the winning run on a 49er error in the top of the eighth, improving UCSB's record to a perfect 6-0 in extra innings games and 16-4 in games decided two runs or less.

The win brings the Gauchos within one game of second-place Long Beach in the Big West standings. Since being defeated in two of three games by Cal Poly in the conference-opening series, UCSB has taken 2-1 wins in three consecutive series.

Senior Kristen Clark led the way with two hits as the Gauchos took an 8-5 advantage in hits. With six hits in four games this week, Clark has increased her career total to 283, good for the second-highest mark in Big West history.

Three different Gauchos recorded an RBI for the day, including Pemberton, freshman Alyssa Diaz and junior Jessica Johnston.

Long Beach junior Jessica Flores opened the scoring with a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, but UCSB was quick to respond, as Diaz answered with her third home run of the season to cut LBSU's lead to 2-1. The 49ers would double their lead in the bottom of the second, scoring an unearned run following a Gaucho fielding error.

In the top of the third, with senior Jacqueline Hinojosa on third base, Johnston knocked a sac fly to center field, once again bringing UCSB within one run at 3-2.

The Gauchos would then equalize in the top of the fifth. After getting on base with a single to shortstop, Clark would make it to third after a Long Beach error and a stolen base. Pemberton then earned her sole RBI of the day, hitting a single to left field to bring Clark home, making it 3-3.

Both teams would record just one hit until the top of the eighth, when a Brucelas single led to a throwing error by the 49ers, allowing Pemberton to make it all the way home from first for the potential winning run.

Sophomore pitcher Ashley Wright (4-2), who came on in the bottom of the seventh, would give up just one hit and no runs in the eighth, giving UCSB its second consecutive victory. Both Wright and sophomore pitcher Veronika Gulvin finished with two strikeouts.

Both teams ended the day with two errors in the third and final ESPN3 broadcasted game of the weekend. The Gauchos will head to Hawai'i next weekend to play their final road games of the regular season.