Gauchos down Highlanders in doubleheader

UC Santa Barbara ensured itself the series win against UC Riverside on Saturday as it swept a doubleheader at the Highlander’s Amy S. Harrison Softball Field. The Gauchos posted a season-best in runs as they won the first game, 11-1, and then came from behind to take game two, 6-3.

With the victories, UCSB improves to 20-25 on the season and 5-3 in Big West Conference games. The Highlanders fall to 18-21 overall and 1-7 in league play.

UCSB used a season-high-tying 16 hits in the first game of the twin bill to score double-digit runs for the first time this season. The last time UCSB tallied 11 runs in a game was on April 13, 2011 against Cal State Bakersfield.

The Gauchos jumped on Riverside early. Jessica Soria led off in the top of the first with an infield single and Brooke Putich reached on an error. A sacrifice bunt from Allison Taylor moved both runners into scoring position and one out later, Keilani Jennings drew a walk. Another infield error by the Highlanders allowed Kathryn Pilpil to reach first and Soria to come home for the unearned run.

In the second, Lauren Boser started things off with a chopper hit to third base. Shelby Wisdom drove Boser and herself home during the next at-bat with a home run hit over the left field fence, stretching the Gaucho lead to 3-0.

After being contained for the next two innings, UCSB’s offense exploded in the fifth. Pilpil led off with a walk and was bunted over to second base with a sacrifice from Jenessa Jeppesen. Boser followed with her second infield hit of the game to put runners on the corners. Wisdom once again came up with some timely hitting as she drove Pilpil home with a single hit to left field.

The Highlanders got Soria out on the next play, but not before both the base runners advanced. Brooke Putich then drove Boser home from third base with a single hit straight up the middle. When Putich made a dash to second during the next at-bat, Wisdom was able to come home after the Highlander catcher erred on the throw in an attempt to catch Putich stealing. An RBI double from Taylor brought Putich home and put the Gauchos ahead, 7-0.

Wisdom led off in the top of the seventh with her third hit of the game, a single to right center field. Soria and Putich followed with a pair of infield singles, loading the bases with no outs. Taylor hit her second double of the game, this time down the left field line, sending home two runners. Lainey DePompa and Jennings hit consecutive RBI singles to the outfield bringing UCSB’s total to a season-best 11 runs.

Andriana Collins came in to relieve Wisdom in the circle in the seventh and ran into a bit of trouble as the Highlanders attempted a last ditch rally. A pair of infield singles followed by a Gaucho error loaded the bases. A base hit to left field by Alexis Pickett scored Alaina Thomas before Collins took the next two batters down in order to squelch the Highlander rally.

Wisdom led the Gauchos on both sides of the ball, going 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBI, a home run and an additional run scored. In the circle, she pitched six shutout innings. She allowed six hits, one walk and struck out seven batters.

Taylor also went 3-for-4 with a run, two doubles and an RBI while Soria, Putich and Boser were all 2-for-5. Every Gaucho batter had at least one hit in the victory.

While the Gauchos benefited from a season-high 11 runs in game one of the series, it was their season-best seven walks that helped them to the win in game two of the twin bill.

UCSB fell behind in the bottom of the second when Brittany Keeney led off with a solo home run hit over the left field fence. Yesenia Duenas and Thomas each hit infield singles to put two runners on with two outs in the inning. Both runners stole a bag before Kayla White walked to load the bases. Ariel Shore then hit a single to left field scoring Duenas to put the Highlanders up, 2-0.

The Gauchos trailed until the fourth inning. With one out, Pilpil and Wisdom earned back-to-back walks before both advanced on a wild pitch. DeJanee Moore then drew a walk to load the bases. A bases loaded walk by Boser left Pilpil with nowhere left to go but home. One out later, Putich reached base on balls, bringing Wisdom across home plate for the tying run.

In the fifth, Taylor led off with a walk and DePompa bunted over her pinch runner, McKenzie Kane, to second. An error by UCR allowed Pilpil to reach first and Kane to move to third, putting runners on the corners with one out. Wisdom then posted her fourth RBI of the day when she hit a single up the middle, scoring Kane.

A pitch hit Moore as the Gauchos continued to benefit from shaky Highlander pitching. Riverside made a pitching change, but Boser responded with an infield RBI single to put the Gauchos up, 4-2. Kendall Gill then came into the game as a pinch hitter and brought home another run with a sacrifice fly hit to left field. When the damage was done, UCSB had a three-run lead.

In the seventh, UCSB was able to put up one more run. With one out, Moore reached first for the third time during the game, this time with a base hit up the middle. One out later, she stole second. Soria followed with an infield single and Moore was able to come home on the play after a Highlander error.

UC Riverside once again put up a fight in the bottom of the seventh inning. The Highlanders loaded the bases following a Gaucho error and a pair of base hits. Wisdom was able to get the first two outs of the inning with a pair of strikeouts, but a wild pitch allowed Thomas to score. Wisdom escaped further damage and sealed the win when Keeney lined out to shortstop.

Boser had her second multiple-hit game of the day, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a walk.

Wisdom, meanwhile, improved to 15-12 on the season as she captured her second win of the day. She tossed the complete game and allowed three runs – two earned – on seven hits. She struck out 11 batters and walked three.

UCSB and UC Riverside will conclude their three-game series on Sunday at noon at the Highlander’s Amy S. Harrison Field.