Gauchos Split Final Day to Capture Cal Poly Series

Sierra Altmeyer hit a walk-off homerun in game one against Cal Poly on Saturday (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Sierra Altmeyer hit a walk-off homerun in game one against Cal Poly on Saturday (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – In the final day of the regular season, the UC Santa Barbara softball team split its doubleheader against Cal Poly, taking game one 5-4 on a walk-off homerun by Sierra Altmeyer before dropping a 5-1 contest in game two at Campus Diamond on Saturday afternoon.  

Following the conclusion of the nightcap, seniors Lena Mayer and Samantha Lujan were recognized for their contributions and dedication to the UCSB softball program over the past four years.

Game 1

Cal Poly jumped out to an early 3-0 lead after a bases clearing double in the top of the first, but the Gauchos responded quickly with three runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning.

Maci Fines led off with a single to center on the first pitch she saw and Genesis Ramirez drew a walk to put two runners on. Sierra Altmeyer stepped up to the plate and promptly drove a three-run homerun, her seventh of the season, to tie the game at 3-3.

Mayer settled into a groove following the first inning, retiring five in a row and six of the next eight batters to cruise through the second and third innings.  

In the bottom of the third, Rayna Cohen put the Gauchos on top with a two-out, solo homerun to right field, her third of the season, to make it a 4-3 UCSB advantage.

After UCSB escaped a bases loaded jam in the fourth, the Mustangs kept up the offensive pressure and evened up the score, 4-4, with an RBI single in the fifth.

The Gauchos had a chance to take the lead in the sixth with runners on first and second, but pinch runner Veronika Gulvin was thrown out at the plate after Fines singled to left.

Felisha Noriega set down the Mustangs in order in the top of the seventh to set the stage for a UCSB walk-off in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Altmeyer tee'd off on a pitch deep to left field to end the game, giving UCSB its second walk-off in two games against rival Cal Poly.

Altmeyer finished 2-for-4 with two homeruns and four RBI while Fines also went 2-for-4 with a run and Melanie Menor went 2-for-3.

Noriega improved to 7-7 on the year with the win after pitching the final two innings, allowing just two hits with two strikeouts and no runs. Mayer earned the no decision in the final collegiate start of her career, tossing five innings while allowing four earned, walking five and striking out three.

Game 2

In the nightcap and final game of the season, the Gauchos brought an early run across to take a 1-0 lead after the first inning.

With two outs, Ramirez lined a double into the left center gap that popped out of the glove of the Mustangs' diving left fielder. After an intentional walk to Altmeyer, Cohen continued her hot day at the plate with an RBI single up the middle.

Noriega carried over her success in the circle from game one, tossing three straight scoreless innings until the Mustangs utilized small ball in the fourth and broke through for five runs to take a firm 5-1 lead.

With runners on the corners, Cal Poly executed a squeeze bunt and followed with another bunt single to load the bases. Two more RBI singles and a sac fly capped off the scoring for the Mustangs in the frame.

Looking to duplicate Friday's magic with a big comeback, the Gauchos loaded the bases in the sixth but were unable to bring a run across and the Mustangs held on in the seventh to close out the game.

Ramirez finished 3-for-4 to lead UCSB at the plate while Cohen, Lujan, Alyssa Lazatin and Menor tallied one hit apiece.

Noriega (7-8) was handed the loss in the circle while Veronika Gulvin pitched a strong 3.1 scoreless innings of relief allowing just one hit.

Cal Poly's Dakota Casper (2-10) picked up the win after tossing a complete game, scattering seven hits, and allowing just one run while striking out one and walking three.

UCSB finishes the season 20-34 overall and 7-14 in conference play and will return the bulk of its starters for next season.