April 2, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB opened 2011 Big West Conference play in the same fashion as all of its league opponents: with a doubleheader split. The Gauchos came from behind to defeat Cal State Fullerton, 2-1, in the first game of Saturday's twin bill at Campus Diamond only to be on the receiving end of a late comeback in their second game, falling 5-4.
In what could be an early indicator of a very competitive conference season, all the other league teams went 1-1 on the opening day of Big West play. This weekend's series between the Gauchos and Titans will be decided on Sunday at noon at Campus Diamond.
With the split, UCSB is now 13-17 on the year and Fullerton is 12-16. The game one win helped the Gauchos snap a seven-game losing skid and a six-game drought against the Titans.
Fullerton got off to a great start during the first inning of game one when Lauren Mario hit a leadoff triple to deep right center field. Ashley Carter brought her home during the ensuing at-bat with a ground ball hit straight up the middle of the field to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.
The Gauchos evened the score at the bottom of the fourth inning when Keilani Jennings - who was perhaps inspired by the national anthem being played at neighboring Caesar Uyesaka Stadium - led off with a homer hit over the center field fence. The round trip marked the 11th of the sophomore's career, which ties her for 10th all-time in the UCSB record books with Jessie Ziese (1999-2000).
At the bottom of the fifth, Lainey DePompa led off with a single hit to right center field and her pinch runner, Kelly McDonald, was able to advance to second on a ground out by Brooke Putich. Kathryn Pilpil then drove McDonald home with a game-winning RBI double hit down the left field line, putting the Gauchos ahead, 2-1.
Pitcher Krista Cobb held on for the win and improved to 5-8 on the season. She allowed just one earned run on seven hits in the victory while walking two and striking out five. Ari Cervantes (9-8) suffered the loss after allowing two earned runs on six hits. She walked two and struck out four.
The second game had a sense of déjà vu to it as the Titans once again gained a 1-0 lead in the first inning, this time when Latisha Dedeaux drove in Carter from third base with an infield single.
UCSB trailed until the bottom of the third inning when a leadoff bomb, this time by Lainey DePompa, tied the game at 1-1.
Continuing in the pattern of game one, the Gauchos took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Putich opened the frame with a triple hit deep to the right center field warning track. The next two batters went down in order before a pitch hit Allison Taylor, putting runners on the corners with two outs. Jennings followed with a walk.
For the second time in the game, senior Jessica Beristianos came up to bat with the bases loaded and two outs. In the third inning, she swung at the first pitch and fouled out to right field. The second time around, she worked her way to a full count, and after several fouled off pitches, she was able to find the ball she wanted and hit a two-RBI single to left field.
Trailing 3-1 at the top of the sixth, Fullerton made sure the similarities between the day's two contests would end there. K.C. Craddick led off with a single hit up the middle and then stole second before Nicole Johnson sent a base hit to right field. A pitch hit Dedeaux, loading the bases with no outs, which set the stage for Torrie Anderson's ensuing heroics. The center fielder hit a double to the center field warning track sending all three runners home and regaining the Titan lead.
Gaucho pitcher Andriana Collins was able to strike out the next batter to earn the first out of the inning, but Fullerton tacked on one more run when Leesa Harris hit a sac fly to center field, sending Anderson home for the 5-3 advantage. Collins struck out the next batter and the Gauchos got back to work at the bottom of the inning.
With one out, DePompa posted her third hit of the day, a double to right center field. After Amanda Ziegler came in to pinch run for DePompa, Putich hit an infield single pushing Zielger to third base. Putich quickly stole second to put two runners in scoring position.
On the next play, Kathryn Pilpil hit a ball to the Fullerton shortstop Adriana Martinez, who committed a fielding error on the play. The error allowed Pilpil to reach first and she moved to second on the throw. Ziegler scored easily on the play, but Putich was beat home by the throw for the second out. McKenzie Kane singled to shallow center field during the next at-bat to put the potential game-winning run at first, but after subbing in Cervantes for pitcher Katey Laban, the Titans were able to earn the final out and hold onto their one-run lead.
After hitting Jennings with a pitch in the seventh, Cervantes quickly earned the three outs needed to secure Fullerton's 5-4 win.
Laban (1-4) got the win in the circle after tossing 5.2 innings and allowing four runs (three earned) on nine hits. She walked three and struck out one. Cervantes earned the save.
For the Gauchos, Collins (8-9) suffered the loss after allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits. She walked two and struck out five. DePompa and Pilpil led UCSB at the plate with three hits apiece on Saturday.