March 29, 2008

Gauchos Open Conference Play With Two Wins Over UC Riverside

March 29, 2008

Box Score

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Junior Tiffany Wright led the Gauchos going 6-for-8 with two home runs and four RBI as the UC Santa Barbara softball team opened its 2008 Big West schedule with a pair of wins on Saturday. UCSB defeated UC Riverside, 7-6 and 6-2 at the Highlanders' Amy S. Harrison Field.

With the wins, UCSB improves to 19-14 on the season and 2-0 in Big West games; UC Riverside falls to 14-21 and 0-2.

In the day's first pairing, Wright led the Gauchos going 5-for-5 at the plate with a home run, an additional run, and two RBI. Freshman designated player Katie McWhirter also had a strong showing, going 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI.

In the circle, Lindsey Correa improved to 9-4 on the season after pitching seven innings, allowing six earned runs on seven hits with eight walks and four strikeouts. Sophomore MeLinda Matsumoto pitched the final inning of the game and gave up just one hit and struck out one batter.

After a scoreless first inning, McWhirter singled to right field with two outs in the top of the second. A wild pitch allowed the runner to move to second before sophomore Priscilla Perez hit an RBI double to right center field to put the Gauchos on the board, 1-0.

At the top of the third, junior Christine Ramos led-off with a bunt single and a sac bunt from sophomore Jessica Ziegler on the next play put Ramos on second with one out. A home run over the center field fence from Wright added two more runs to the scoreboard for UCSB. Then an RBI double from McWhirter brought Tisha Duran across home plate to give the Gauchos a 4-0 lead.

An RBI single from Nicole Churnock in the fourth and a a bases loaded hit by pitch in the fifth stretched the Gauchos' lead to 6-0.

The Highlanders did not give up though and in the bottom of the fifth, April Murray singled with one out and then stole second. The next batter walked and Marissa Alvidrez then singled to right field, loading the bases. The Gauchos earned the second out of the inning on a fielder's choice before a single off the bat of Kristie Martinez sent home two Riverside runs and a third run scored on the play to cut the UCSB lead to 6-3.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Highlanders loaded the bases with two outs before Taylor Thomas doubled to left field sending home three runners and tying the game 6-6.

In the top of the eighth, Wright hit a single through the left side and advanced to second when Duran grounded out to the third basemen. An RBI single from freshman Jessica Beristianos broke the tie and put the Gauchos ahead 7-6 heading into the bottom of the inning.

Matsumoto came in to pitch for Correa at the bottom of the eighth and after allowing a single, the Gauchos took down the next three batters in order to take the 7-6 win.

In the second pairing of the day, Churnock went 2-for-3 and three Gauchos: Duran, Wright, and Perez, each hit a homer in the victory. Junior Tami Weston improved to 6-2 on the season after pitching a complete game allowing two earned runs on five hits. She allowed three walks and struck out three.

After a scoreless first inning, UCSB loaded the bases in the top of third, but a series of fielder's choices helped the Highlanders to get out of the inning unscathed.

At the bottom of the second, Kameryn Hebenton hit a sacrifice fly to left field sending Thomas home and putting Riverside ahead, 1-0.

The Gauchos would not let their conference foes hold the lead for long. Ramos led-off with a single in the third inning before stealing second. Wright's second home run of the day put the Gauchos ahead 2-1 during the next play.

In the fourth, Martinez responded with a solo homer of her own, the only Highlander hit of the inning, to tie the game at 2-2.

After a scoreless fifth, Perez homered over the right field fence to regain the lead for UCSB. At the top of the seventh, Danielle Meyers walked before Wright was hit by a pitch, putting two runners on-base. With no outs, Duran hit a homer over the left field fence to stretch the Gaucho lead to 6-2. UCSB held on through the bottom of the inning and captured its second win of the day.

The Gauchos will close out action with UC Riverside on Sunday at noon at the Highlanders' Amy S. Harrison Field.