RIVERSIDE, CALIF. – The UC Santa Barbara Gauchos went on the road for a doubleheader against UC Riverside, and fell short in both games on Saturday at Amy S. Harrison Field.
The Gauchos came out with hot bats in the top of the first inning, as they totaled four runs to open up the ballgame. Maci Fines took a ball deep to right center for the first run of the game, and UCSB capitalized on the early momentum. Shortly after, with the bases loaded, Rayna Cohen used a great at-bat to draw a walk, scoring Sammy Fabian to put UCSB up two. Kayla Krantz followed with a single of her own that brought home Genesis Ramirez. With only one out, the Gauchos found themselves up 3-0. Alyssa Lazatin added some more cushion to the lead, scoring Sierra Altmeyer on a ground out.
UC Riverside surprisingly topped the Gauchos' hot start, scoring seven runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Gauchos made an error in the inning, and combined with Riverside's hot bats, they were not only able to come back from the deficit, but take a three run lead going into the second.
Despite a rough start from the defense, UCSB's offense was still in sync. The Gauchos scored three runs in the top of the inning to tie it up, highlighted by Samantha Lujan's single with the bases loaded. The hit brought in two runners, and seemed to shift the momentum back in the Gaucho's favor.
While the Gauchos were able to tie the game up at seven apiece, the stalemate did not last long. Two more runs in the bottom of the second put the Highlanders up two. The Gauchos continued to struggle early in the field, and allowed another unearned run to give Riverside the lead back.
Both teams found their footing defensively in the third inning. Neither team was able to score, keeping the score at 9-7 in Riverside's favor.
The Gauchos could not score again in the top of the fourth, as Riverside looked like they had overcome their early defensive struggles. The Gauchos continued to struggle on defense, and allowed Riverside to score three more runs. That put the Highlanders up 12-7, as errors continued to haunt the Gauchos with two more in the fourth.
Neither team scored in the fifth inning, and the Gauchos seemed to be out of luck heading into the sixth inning. Lujan turned the Gauchos' tide with one swing of her bat. After already scoring two runners in the second inning, Lujan hit a grand slam to left to score four runs, and bring the Gauchos within one run. The grand slam seemed to reviatalize the Gauchos, but they would not score again in the inning. Riverside continued their solid day on offense, and scored one run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 13-11.
With a half inning to tie the game up or take the lead, the Gauchos entered the top of the seventh determined to tie the game up. However, the Highlanders held fast on defense, and closed out the game to clinch the victory.
UCSB's errors on defense contributed negatively to the game, as they racked up four costly errors in a tightly contested ballgame.
Lujan was the Gauchos' top performer, as she totaled six RBI in the first game of the doubleheader.
While the first game was tightly contested, the Highlanders used their momentum to run away with the second game. Riverside took an early 4-0 lead through the first three innings and did not look back.
UCSB was able to narrow the gap a little in the fourth, as Altmeyer and Lujan both knocked in a run to make it 4-2. However, Riverside scored three more runs in the bottom of the inning to essentially put the game out of reach at 7-2. Riverside would score two more runs in the following inning to make it 9-2.
In the top of the seventh, the Gauchos scored a run, and the game ended at 9-3. Once again, errors proved to be costly, as UCSB tallied three more in the second game of the day.
The Gauchos get another shot at the Highlanders on Sunday at 1pm at Amy S. Harrison Field.