Gauchos Take Two on Wild Day at Capital City Kick Off

Jessica Johnston (Photo by Eric Isaacs)
Jessica Johnston (Photo by Eric Isaacs)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – It was a wild day of softball on the second day of the Capital City Kick Off, as the UC Santa Barbara softball team picked up a pair of one-run victories by holding off Santa Clara, 5-4, before rallying for an extra-inning, 8-7, win over host Sacramento State on Saturday.

Game One

After defeating Santa Clara 4-2 in yesterday's season opener, the Gauchos squared off against the Broncos yet again on Saturday morning. In similar fashion to Friday's game, UCSB scored in four straight innings to jump out to an early lead.

After Santa Clara used a pair of doubles to bring a run home in the top of the first, the Gauchos responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning on RBI singles from Rayna Cohen and Melanie Menor.

In the second inning, a Maci Fines single followed by an Alyssa Diaz walk set up Sierra Altmeyer for an RBI single to put UCSB ahead 3-1.

In the third, the Broncos took advantage of a leadoff single and a throwing error later in the inning to bring around their second run of the game, but the Gauchos answered back after Genesis Ramirez walked, advanced on a wild pitch, and came around to score on a Kayla Krantz sac fly.

UCSB scored its final run of the game in the fourth inning after another single from Fines followed by an RBI double to right center off the bat of Jessica Johnston.

With the Gauchos leading 5-2 heading into the seventh, Santa Clara threatened with a two-out rally to load the bases. A two-RBI single brought the deficit to one with the tying run on third, but a passed ball bounced the Gauchos way and Ramirez was able to tag out the runner at the plate.

Veronika Gulvin (1-0) earned the win in the circle after pitching four innings while allowing seven hits, one earned run and striking out three. Lena Mayer came in for the final three innings and picked up the save.

At the plate, UCSB was led by Johnston who went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI while Fines went 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Diaz finished 1-for-2 with two walks and a run.

Game Two

In the second game of the morning, taking on host Sacramento State, the Gauchos used all 15 active players in the extra-inning team win.

The Hornets stung the Gauchos early with three runs on three hits in the second inning, and would hold a 3-0 lead until the sixth, when Cohen put UCSB on the board with her first career homerun.

Menor walked on the next at-bat and advanced to third after a throwing error on Samantha Lujan's fielder's choice. With Sammy Fabian coming in to pinch run for Lujan, she took off for second allowing Menor to steal home on the play, making it a 3-2 game.

The Hornets, however, bounced back with three runs in the bottom of the sixth and took a 6-2 lead into the seventh.

The Gauchos would not go down without a fight and the first six batters reached base. Johnston led things off with a single to left and was followed by Diaz, who reached on an error. After a walk to Altmeyer loaded the bases, Cohen singled to the left center gap to bring home two. A walk to Menor on the next at-bat loaded the bases once again, and another walk to Lujan brought home Altmeyer to make it a one-run game, 6-5. 

With one out and the bases still loaded, Alyssa Lazatin flied out to center, deep enough to allow Cohen, the tying run, to race home and score.

In the eighth inning, UCSB took a brief lead with an RBI single from Diaz, but Sacramento State answered with an RBI single of their own in the bottom half of the frame. They threatened with the game-winning run on third and just one out, but pitcher Felisha Noriega got an infield popup and a ground out to get out of the jam.

In the top of the ninth, with Menor placed on second, Ramirez executed a sac bunt to move her over to third. Krantz then executed with a sacrifice fly to left to bring home the game-winning run.

The UCSB defense held strong in the bottom of the ninth, getting the runner that was placed on second out at third before Noriega struck out the final batter to seal the win.

Noriega (1-1) earned the victory in the circle after tossing 4.1 innings and scattering seven hits while striking out two and allowing three earned runs. Mayer (2.1 IP), Gulvin (1.2 IP) and Lilliana Rodriguez (0.2 IP) all saw action in the circle.

At the plate, Johnston went 3-for-5 while Diaz, Altmeyer and Cohen all collected two hits apiece.

UCSB (3-1) concludes Capital City Kick Off play tomorrow, Feb. 11, with another game against Sacramento State at 9:30 a.m.