April 29, 2007
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Ericka Hansen drove in what proved to be the winning run and Jennifer Davis picked up her second win in as many days as UC Santa Barbara defeated Cal Poly 6-5 in nine innings Sunday afternoon to claim its first Big West Conference series this season. Davis also became the Big West's all-time career strikeout leader with nine in the win over the Mustangs.
With the victory, UCSB improves to 26-18 overall and 3-9 in the Big West, while league-leading Cal Poly falls to 34-14 and 9-3 against conference foes. The Gauchos have now won three of their last four games in Big West play after starting 0-8.
Davis was brilliant in the circle once again for UCSB, picking up her third decision of the series. The Whittier, Calif. native tossed nine complete innings, allowed five runs on eight hits and walked just two on the way to her 10th victory of the season (10-2). Entering Sunday's game, Davis needed just seven strikeouts to surpass Cal Poly's Desarie Knipfer (1995-98) on the all-time conference strikeout list at 798. The senior right-hander fanned nine Mustang batters to become the Big West career leader with 801.
Davis had help from her offensive as well Sunday, as the Gauchos belted as season-high 15 hits. Senior first baseman Jessica Hejna led the way, finishing 3-for-5 with three RBI, while Hansen went 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI, and a run. For the second day in a row, Davis was effective at the plate and in the circle, with two hits, a home run, and two runs scored, one of which was the game-winner.
Sophomore right-hander Jenna Maiden got the call for Cal Poly and she and Davis battled through three scoreless innings until Santa Barbara struck first with three in the top of the fourth. Hansen led off the inning with a double to left and advanced to third on a Nicole Churnock groundout. Senior shortstop Brittany Putich then singled up the middle to give the Gauchos a 1-0 lead. Hejna later tripled down the right field line with two outs and runners on second and third for the 3-0 advantage.
UCSB's lead increased to 4-0 an inning later when Davis hit a towering home run deep over the fence in center field. Her team-leading sixth round-tripper of the season came off Cal Poly's Emily Hively, who had come on in relief of Maiden at the start of the inning.
The Mustangs scratched their first run of the afternoon in the bottom of the fifth, when left fielder Kelly Comstock grounded out following three consecutive one out singles to load the bases.
Sophomore second baseman Christine Ramos scored the Gauchos' fifth run when she came home on an error by the Cal Poly shortstop in the top of the sixth.
The Mustangs came roaring back to tie the game with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, highlighted by a three-run double to right center off the bat of shortstop Melissa Pura.
Santa Barbara used another Cal Poly error and a single to put two on with one out in the top of the eighth, but the next batter was retired and Ramos was tagged out at the plate to end the inning.
Despite allowing four runs in what would have been the final inning of the game, Davis settled down and retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth, setting up the decisive ninth inning.
Eager to get something going at the plate, Davis singled to right to lead off the inning. Sophomore first baseman Tiffany Wright followed with a single of her own up the middle. The next batter was Hansen, who dropped a ball into center field and Davis came home for the eventual winning run.
The one run lead proved to be enough as the Gauchos' ace worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth to secure the victory and the series for UCSB over the first place Mustangs.
Hively took the loss for Cal Poly, falling for just the second time this season (8-2). She allowed three runs on eight hits, while striking out two and walking one. Her record now stands at 8-2. Maiden lasted just four innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and a pair of walks.
UCSB returns to action Monday, April 30 when No. 13 Oregon State comes to town for a single game at Campus Diamond. First pitch of the non-conference matchup is scheduled for 11:00 a.m.