UCSB nine-game win streak snapped by Riverside

UCSB was looking to complete its second consecutive Big West Conference series sweep on Sunday but came up short as visiting UC Riverside battled back from six run deficit to capture an 11-8 win at Campus Diamond. The Gauchos still captured the series win after posting 3-0 and 7-5 wins in a twin bill on Saturday.

The loss snapped the Gauchos’ nine-game win streak as they fall to 22-19 on the season and 6-3 in Big West games. Riverside improves to 10-24 and 3-6 in league play.

UCSB fell behind early when Jessica Vasser drove Brittany Keeney home from third base with a sacrifice fly hit to center field at the top of the second inning. A double driven to deep center field by Alexis Villamor sent Kayla White across home plate one play later to give the Highlanders their first lead of the series.

A pitch hit Kendall Gill while the bases were loaded in the bottom of the same inning allowing the Gauchos to cut their deficit in half. Then, at the bottom of the third, UCSB went to work.

McKenzie Kane led off with a chopper hit to second base and Allison Taylor’s high bouncing bunt during the next at bat put two runners on. Keilani Jennings followed with a three-run blast hit over the left field fence to put UCSB ahead.

Lauren Boser then sent a single up the middle and Lainey DePompa was able to reach when Highlander catcher Alexis Pickett’s throw to first after a sacrifice bunt was off the mark. Jessica Beristianos bunted both runners over and one out later, Brooke Putich singled to right field sending Boser home.

During the next at-bat, Pickett tried had a chance to catch Putich stealing, but second baseman Brooke Hebenton failed to field the throw and the misplay allowed DePompa ample time to come home and push the UCSB lead to 6-2.

After pitcher Krista Cobb swiftly retired the next three batters in order, the Gauchos were back at it. With one out, Jennings hit her 15th double of the year – tying Tiffany Wright’s single season school record – to the right field fence. Boser followed with her second hit of the game. One out later, Beristianos singled to left field sending home both runners. Unfortunately, that is where the Gauchos’ luck would run out.

In the fifth, Pickett led off with a solo home run over the center field fence before Dionne Anderson tripled and then came home on an infield single by Ariel Shore. A pitch hit Brooke Hebenton during the next at bat, but Cobb then managed to capture consecutive outs on a line out and fly out to left field. A timely three-run homer to center field by White cut the Gaucho lead to 8-7.

With the bases cleared and two outs, Andriana Collins came in to relieve Cobb. The freshman struggled, loading the bases with consecutive base hits and a walk before she was able to get out the jam unscathed with a ground out hit to the shortstop.

UCSB loaded the bases with a trio of singles in the fifth inning, but pitcher Casey Suda dug herself out of trouble to keep the Highlanders in the fight.

Riverside then used the sixth inning to close the door on the Gauchos. With runners on first and second, Kenney hit a single to center field. Kane bobbled the ball on the play, allowing Shore time to score the tying run. One out later, a fielding error by Kathryn Pilpil allowed Kameryn Hebenton to come home for the eventual game-winning run.

An RBI single to shortstop by Pickett during the next at-bat added insult to injury. Jennings was able to cleanly field the hit, but fell to the ground with an injury in the process, which allowed an extra run to come home on the play and pushed the UCR lead to 11-8.

The Gauchos got two runners on in the bottom of the seventh with singles from Putich and Kane, but neither would make it across home plate as the Highlanders held on for the win.

Andriana Collins (12-10) suffered the loss after allowing four runs (none earned) off of five hits in one inning of work. She walked three and fanned one. Cobb, who came back to finish the game, pitched six innings and allowed seven runs (six earned) on six hits. She walked one and struck out one.

Prior to getting hurt, Jennings went 2-for-4 with a home run, run scored, three RBI and a double. Boser was 2-for-3 with three runs and Putich led the team going 3-for-4 with an RBI.

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