Come-from-behind Walk-off Victory Caps Gaucho Classic II

Melanie Menor (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Melanie Menor (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – An exciting come-from-behind victory highlighted the fourth and final day of the Gaucho Classic II for the UC Santa Barbara softball team. Junior pitcher Veronika Gulvin, sophomore first baseman Alyssa Diaz, and sophomore catcher Genesis Ramirez starred in the Gauchos' (13-19) doubleheader against the Seattle University Redhawks, winning the first game and clinching the best-of-three series 2-1 and losing the second game 15-3.

After ending the tournament with a 3-2 record, UCSB has now won five of its last seven games.

Game 1

Following up yesterday's complete game shutout, Gulvin continued to dominate in the circle with another complete game performance, allowing only five hits, two walks, and an unearned run while striking out four.

The Redhawks opened the scoring early in the first inning after leadoff hitter Nicole Bolasky singled down the left field line and stole second, then capitalized on a Gaucho throwing error to round third and score after teammate Ally Choate hit a single in the next at-bat.

Stellar defensive play was key for the Gauchos' comeback bid, with star junior shortstop Melanie Menor being involved in five putouts. In addition to pitching six scoreless innings, two of Gulvin's strikeouts came at a crucial time in the top of seventh inning with a runner on base for Seattle.

The Gauchos came into the bottom of the seventh inning having only registered a lone hit against Redhawks pitcher Carley Nance up to that point. Diaz, the batter responsible for that hit in the bottom of the fourth inning, picked up another, this time a single to left field. Junior second baseman Altmeyer doubled to left in the next at-bat and scored Diaz to tie the game. Two outs later, freshman right-fielder Alyssa Lazatin hit the game-winning double out to left center field, bringing Altmeyer home to complete the comeback.

Gulvin improved to 5-7 on the season with the win, while her counterpart Nance (11-10) took the loss for Seattle. The Gauchos clinched the best-of-three series with the victory.

Game 2

Sophomore pitcher Felisha Noriega started the second game of today's doubleheader in her first start since March 9 at Fresno State and her first home start since February 25 against San Diego. In 2.2 innings pitched, she allowed two hits and two runs, both earned, while recording three strikeouts.

The Gauchos matched Seattle offensively in the early goings of the game, pulling ahead twice to lead 3-2 at the conclusion of the fourth inning. After Seattle went up 1-0 in the top of the first, Ramirez hit an RBI single, the first of her two hits on the day, to score freshman left-fielder Sammy Fabian and tie the game at one apiece.

UCSB turned the early deficit into a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second inning after freshman designated player Maci Fines blasted a ball to the warning track in right field, hitting a triple and advancing to home plate after Seattle's second baseman Kaylee Ree overthrew her teammate Alyson Matriotti at third base to complete the inside-the-park home run.

After another RBI double from Seattle to tie the game back up 2-2 in the top of the third, UCSB pulled ahead once again through Lazatin's sacrifice fly to score Ramirez in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Redhawks scored in the final three innings of the game, using a seven-run sixth inning and a five-run seventh inning to avoid the possibility of another Gaucho comeback.

Shianne Smith improved to 5-1 in the circle for Seattle. Senior Lena Mayer (3-7) was tagged with the loss after replacing Noriega, with Gulvin also appearing in relief.

The Gauchos travel to face the University of San Diego Toreros on Wednesday, March 28 at 12:00 p.m. before opening Big West Conference play at defending champions Cal State Fullerton over the weekend. The Gauchos faced San Diego this season twice during the Gaucho Classic I earlier this season, winning the first matchup 5-4 and losing the second 3-2. Both games went eight innings.