SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The third day of the Gaucho Classic I proved fruitful for the hosts as the UC Santa Barbara softball team defeated the University of San Diego Toreros 5-4 in a come-from-behind walk-off victory in the bottom of the eighth at Campus Diamond on Saturday afternoon.
Junior pitcher Veronika Gulvin (2-2) pitched three innings in relief, allowing two hits and one unearned run to pick up the win. Freshman right fielder Rayna Cohen drove in three runs, including the eventual winning run when she drove in freshman centerfielder Maci Fines with a sacrifice fly.
Each team registered a hit in the first inning, but it wasn't until the bottom of the second that UCSB (7-7) opened the scoring with senior catcher Samantha Lujan doubling to left center field, scoring sophomore Genesis Ramirez to go up 1-0.
USD began to take over the game in the top of the third, tying the game through Hannah Gilliland's RBI single.
The Toreros then capitalized on a Gaucho error in the top of the fourth inning to score the go-ahead run before Madison Casiano hit an RBI single to put the Toreros up 3-1.
UCSB rallied back to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth, with Cohen bringing in Ramirez and junior second baseman Sierra Altmeyer with a two-RBI double.
The Toreros hit back with an immediate reply in the top of the seventh inning, with Shannon McKeon hitting an RBI double to put USD ahead once again.
UCSB benefitted from two misplays at first base to load the bases in the bottom half of the inning, with freshman left fielder Sammy Fabian and junior shortstop Melanie Menor reaching base with hits. The Gauchos' pressure got to USD pitcher Halle Kyler as she walked Altmeyer and Ramirez following an Alyssa Diaz strikeout, with the second walk scoring Fabian to tie the game and sending it to extra innings.
USD attempted to thwart the Gaucho comeback attempt in the top of the eighth inning, but the Gauchos kept it tight defensively as Fabian made a crucial throw to home after catching a flyout to prevent Lauren Kane from scoring for the Toreros.
The Gauchos finally completed the come-from-behind win in the final half of the frame after Fines took third on a wild pitch by Kyler, and then reached home on Cohen's sacrifice fly.
Speaking to UCSB Athletics after the game, head coach Brie Galicinao praised her "young" team and focused on Gulvin's performance as something she was excited about, calling it a "performance that the team needed and that she needed" considering her start to the season in which she's battled against the flu.
Fines spoke on the contrast between last weekend's games and the team's performances so far at the Gaucho Classic, labeling the team's recent good form as "exciting," especially considering how young the team is.
The Gaucho Classic I concludes tomorrow morning at Campus Diamond with UCSB taking on USD at 10:00 a.m.