An unusually blustery day at Campus Diamond kept the Gaucho brooms in the closet as visiting Cal State Northridge avoided a series sweep against the UCSB softball team with a 4-2 victory Wednesday afternoon. Santa Barbara (21-18 overall, 4-5 in Big West) came in with the conference’s leading offensive attack, but was held to just two runs on four hits by junior hurler Amanda Pitzenberger, who found some redemption after giving up the game-winning Gaucho run during the series opener.
On paper, the pitching matchup seemed slightly one-sided heading into Wednesday’s series finale, with Santa Barbara pitting its ace freshman Krista Cobb against Pitzenberger, a converted infielder. Both pitchers seemed to find their rhythm early, allowing only a combined four runners to reach base over the first three innings. Then, after managing only six hits and no runs off Cobb during the previous two encounters, the Matadors (24-14, 4-5) finally solved the freshman.
With only one out in the top of the fourth, Cobb found herself in a bases-loaded jam after surrendering two consecutive singles and a walk. That set the table for freshman utility Hannah Fraijo’s single to center, scoring one after senior outfielder Tiffany Wright held the other runners. With the bases still loaded, senior infielder Micah Putnam stretched the CSUN advantaged to 3-0 with a two-RBI double to left. Cobb was bailed out by her infield with a double play during the next at bat, but the damage was done. Northridge would increase the lead to 4-0 the following inning by virtue of sophomore infielder Tracy Allen’s RBI double to left.
“[Cobb] looked pretty dominant today,” sophomore shortstop Jessica Beristianos said, “but they strung their hits together.”
UCSB looked to blaze the comeback trail in the bottom of the sixth when senior infielder Christine Ramos scored sophomore outfielder Brooke Putich from third on a deep sacrifice. With the bases cleared, the Zeigler sisters went to work, with junior Jessica earning the walk and freshman Amanda loading the bases with two outs after Wright singled herself. Pitzenberger then lost her composure against Beristianos, hitting the shortstop to bring home the Gaucho’s second run.
Down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh, UCSB could not take advantage of two errors by the Northridge shortstop, leaving two on when the final out was recorded. Cobb’s record fell to 14-5 on the year, while Pitzenberger improved to 2-1 after one of her best outings of 2009.
“We didn’t make the adjustments we should have made at the plate,” Beristianos said. “Once we started putting the ball in play we were getting runners on base, but we just ran out of time.”
With the Northridge series concluded, UCSB heads south for a three-game contest with Long Beach State, the first two of which will be televised on ESPNU this Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.