Another series, another set of disappointments. In a result that is becoming all too familiar, the UCSB softball team dropped its fourth straight Big West series this weekend — this time to homesteading Cal State Northridge — marking not just its 9th, 10th and 11th losses in 12 conference contests, but their third three-game Big West tilt that found them on the wrong side of sweep. These last set of games in Northridge were especially cruel to the road-weary Gauchos (10-33 overall, 1-11 in Big West) as two of the three decisions were decided by walk-off singles.
“After winning our game against Riverside [last] Sunday, we had a lot of positive momentum,” junior infielder Jessica Beristianos said. “It was definitely excruciating [to lose by two walk-offs] because we came in so positive and ended up with the [losses].”
Things were looking up for Santa Barbara in the weekend’s first match when, after posting one run in the second, sophomore outfielder Jamie Adishian singled in another run to put the Gauchos up 2-0 in the third. UCSB was able to scratch another across in the same half inning to go up 3-0, but in the bottom half with two outs already in the books, the Matadors finally got to Gaucho starter Krista Cobb. With the bases load, Cobb hit sophomore utility Jaci Carlsen with a pitch that strayed too far inside, giving CSUN their first run. The very next at-bat saw junior infielder Tracy Allen single to left, plating two more to tie the game at 3-3. Cobb managed the third out during the next at-bat, but the damage was done.
“[Cobb]’s been doing pretty well,” said Beristianos. “She’s actually been keeping us pretty motivated. We just haven’t been producing enough runs early in the game when she’s pitching well.”
After a scoreless fourth, Santa Barbara struck back when senior infielder Jessica Ziegler tripled to begin the fifth. A batter later junior infielder Jessica Beristianos laid down a sacrifice bunt down the first base line to score Ziegler and give the Gauchos the lead back at 4-3. Northridge predictably answered in the bottom of the fifth with a run of their own to tie it again at 4-4, and after a scoreless sixth it looked like the game was headed for extras. Despite getting the go-ahead run aboard in the top of the seventh, Santa Barbara couldn’t push one across, setting up CSUN for a game-winning opportunity the next half-inning. Again with two outs, Allen nabbed her third and most important RBI in a single to center field, scoring junior outfielder Jennifer Mosier from third and ending the game 5-4. Even with some welcome help from her offense, Cobb was saddled with her 10th loss of the year while watching the Northridge offense do slightly more to help sophomore Hannah Fraijo pick up the win.
UCSB’s offense seemed spent in Saturday’s second game, posting only one run in a 4-1 loss. CSUN recorded all four of their runs during the first four innings while UCSB managed their only run in the top of the seventh after the game had essentially been decided. Senior hurler Amanda Pitzenberger went the distance for the Matadors, giving up only one run on two hits while walking seven. Senior pitcher Melinda Matsumoto was dealt the loss in six innings of work.
Sunday’s rubber match pitted Cobb against Fraijo yet again in a game that turned into the pitcher’s duel everyone expected but didn’t receive in game one. In sharp contrast to the nine runs on 13 hits the two combined for in the previous meeting, only one run on four hits was allowed through the first six innings. Unfortunately, Santa Barbara saw that run go against them in the second when senior outfielder Alexandria Alvarado blasted a solo-shot over the left field fence. Down 1-0 going into the seventh, freshman infielder Keilani Jennings answered with a bomb of her own to lead off the inning, tying the proceedings at 1-1. UCSB couldn’t take the lead after their next three batters turned into outs, again leaving Northridge with the final say in the bottom of the inning. Like an excruciating replay of game one’s finale, the Gauchos again had two runs on CSUN when Carlsen drilled a walk-off single up the middle, scoring the go-ahead run from second to complete the series sweep.
UCSB returns home next weekend for a three-game set against Long Beach State at Campus Diamond. Admission is free for students.