HONOLULU, Hawaii – Playing in its final two conference road games of the season, UCSB (28-23, 8-7) split its pair of games with Hawai'i (27-19, 6-9), falling 8-4 in Saturday's opening game before taking a 3-2 win in the series closer.
The Gauchos overcame a two-run deficit in their 3-2 victory, with sophomore shortstop Melanie Menor scoring the winning run on a sac fly by senior left fielder Kristen Clark in the top of the seventh. Prior to that, junior catcher Samantha Lujan had tied things up with a two-run homer in the top of the fifth, also scoring freshman first baseman Alyssa Diaz. It was Lujan's first home run of the season and the second of her career.
Hawai'i had the momentum in the early-going as it outhit UCSB 5-1 through the first four innings. First, a single by sophomore Heather Cameron in the bottom of the second brought home freshman Angelique Ramos to make it 1-0.
Two innings later, another Hawai'i single made it 2-0 with the bases loaded, bringing junior pitcher Lena Mayer into the game immediately after. The Berkeley, California native made an immediate impact, giving up no hits and leaving three runners on base to get the Gauchos out of the fourth without further damage being done.
Mayer (2-1) would give up just one hit over the remainder of the game while tying a season-high with three strikeouts. UCSB – the Big West's leader in hits – outhit Hawai'i by one hit for the third consecutive game, finishing with a 7-6 advantage. Clark finished with a team-high two hits on a 2-3 mark at the plate.
The win improves UCSB to a 17-4 record in games decided by two runs or less. Of the Gauchos 28 wins this season, 11 of them have now come in games where they were tied or trailing during the sixth inning or later.
In Saturday's opening game, the Gauchos fell behind early, giving up three runs in both the first and the third. Senior Jacqueline Hinojosa would put UCSB on the board in the top of the fourth, making it home on a single to left field by Menor to make it 6-1.
Unfortunately for the Gauchos, Hawai'i would tack on one more run in both the fourth and the fifth, taking a commanding 8-1 advantage.
UCSB would save its best for last, recording four hits and three runs in the top of the seventh alone. With one out on the board, junior outfielder Jessica Johnston got things started with a single to left field to bring senior Stacy Cavazos home, making it 8-2.
Soon after, Diaz earned two RBI with a single to left field, scoring runs from Clark and Johnston, bringing it to the eventual final score of 8-4.
Both teams finished with three errors, but UCSB outhit Hawai'i once again, 9-8. Diaz set a new career-high with three hits to lead the way, while Johnston and Menor tallied two each.
Two series remain for the Gauchos, who will be at home for the remainder of the season. UCSB returns home next weekend to face UC Davis (May 5-6) before closing out the season against Cal State Fullerton (May 12-13).