SAN JOSE – The UC Santa Barbara softball team (10-17) split its final pair of games at the Santa Clara Bronco Classic on Sunday morning. The Gauchos battled through nine innings to defeat St. Mary’s, 7-5, before suffering a 5-2 loss to host Santa Clara in the tournament’s finale at the San Jose State Spartan Softball Stadium.
During the first game of the Gauchos’ doubleheader, the Gaels (6-13) jumped out to an early lead when Nicole Arce led off with a solo home run over the left center field fence at the bottom of the second inning.
At the top of the fifth inning, Shelby Wisdom hit a one-out single to right field before moving to second on a bunt by Jessica Soria. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch before McKenzie Kane hit an infield single loading the bases for the Gauchos’ number three hitter, Allison Taylor. She grounded out to first, allowing Wisdom to come home and knot the game at 1-1.
With two runners on and two outs at the bottom of the same inning, Michelle Mounts hit a two-RBI double to center field to once again put St. Mary’s ahead.
The Gauchos battled back at the top of the sixth. Kathryn Pilpil was able to reach on a fielding error by the Gael third baseman before advancing to second and then third on a pair of UCSB ground outs. Jenessa Jeppesen drove in the runner with a single hit to the left side to cut the Gaels’ lead to one run.
In the seventh, Kane led off with a bunt single before stealing second base. An RBI single hit by Taylor to center field drove her home for the game-tying run.
Pitcher Andriana Collins was able to retire the side at the bottom of the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.
Per the international tiebreaker rule, Keilani Jennings was placed on second base at the top of the eighth inning. Lauren Boser moved the runner with a single to right field and both players were able to advance on the throw. A fly out from Jeppesen sent Jennings home to give UCSB a 4-3 edge.
Unfortunately, the Gaels countered with a run of their own, scored off of an RBI single by Christine Torrise, to extend the game into nine innings.
Kane started the ninth inning at second and Taylor once again sent her home with a single hit to center field. Lainey DePompa hit a sacrifice bunt to send the runner to third and one out later, Jennings hit a double to right field, allowing Taylor to score. Boser followed with another double to score Jennings and give the Gauchos a three-run buffer.
St. Mary’s managed one more run off of a sacrifice fly from Brittany Sabatini, but that is all the Gaels would muster as the Gauchos grabbed the 7-5 victory.
UCSB saw a complete team effort in the win as six players provided multiple hits and the squad recorded a season-high 16 hits. Jennings and Boser each went 3-for-5 with a double, Taylor was 2-for-5 with three RBI and a run, and Jeppesen drove in two runs.
Collins (4-9) picked up the victory in the circle after tossing seven innings of relief. She allowed four runs, two earned, on five hits. She walked three and struck out three. Wisdom started the game and allowed one earned run on two hits while walking one and fanning one.
An early deficit in game two against Santa Clara (4-20) led to the Gauchos’ eventual demise in the tournament finale.
With one out at the bottom of the first, the Broncos saw consecutive base hits from Stephanie Fisher and Jamie Wallis. Wisdom then hit Kelly Scribner with a pitch to load the bases setting the table for Briana Knight, who hit a home run over the left field fence to give Santa Clara a 4-0 lead. Wisdom struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
In the third with one out, Jessica Soria reached on a Bronco error before Kane hit an infield single. A base hit to right field by Taylor drove Soria home and cut the Gauchos’ deficit to three runs.
Santa Clara tacked on another run off of an RBI double by Wallis at the bottom of the fifth, but the Gauchos’ countered with a run of their own at the top of the sixth. DeJanee Moore led off with a double to left field and moved to third after a wild pitch. Pilpil hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score the runner and once again put the Gauchos within three runs.
With two outs at the top of the seventh, Taylor drew a walk, but she was left stranded as the Broncos sealed the win.
Wisdom (6-8) suffered the loss after pitching five innings. She allowed five earned runs on seven hits while striking out 10 batters, which is one shy of her season-high. Collins allowed one hit and fanned two in one inning of relief work.
UCSB returns home next weekend to host the Gaucho Classic II, which runs Friday through Sunday at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos will play host to Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and San Jose State during the tourney. The opening game will pit UCSB against Wisconsin on Friday morning at 9 a.m.