In their first televised series of the season, the UCSB softball team caught a bit of stage fright in Long Beach as staunch 49er pitching paved the way for a three-game sweep of the Gauchos. Santa Barbara (21-21 overall, 4-8 in the Big West) was held to just one run on 10 hits over the weekend and fell to 0-6 in conference road games.
“It’s a pretty good conference, up and down,” said sophomore infielder Jessica Beristianos. “We’ve had some good games, we just haven’t been able to finish them the way we’ve wanted to.”
Long Beach State (27-17, 8-4) set the tone early in their first at-bat of the series, with senior outfielder Danielle Linke slamming a triple to right off junior MeLinda Matsumoto in the bottom of the first. Linke scored after a single from junior outfielder Ashley Weber to give Long Beach the early 1-0, but Matsumoto would settle down and ended the inning without further damage. Long Beach would scratch one across in the third after a Gaucho error and wild pitch, but finally forced Head Coach Brie Galicinao to make a change in the bottom of the fifth when Linke hit a homer to right, making it 3-0 at that point. Standout freshman Krista Cobb took the mound in a bit of jam with two on and no outs, but turned what could have been a far worse inning into something more manageable, allowing only one more run to plate for a 4-0 deficit. However, Cobb’s effective performance was essentially negated by another complete game from sophomore Brooke Turner, who allowed only two hits from the Big West’s most prolific offense. Turner, whose 2.71 ERA ranked ninth among Big West starters going into the weekend, struck out three in her 16th complete game of the year.
If game one was the nightmare, game two was the false awakening for Santa Barbara, as the series’ second game played out like an eerily similar repeat of its predecessor. Again, young LBSU pitching dominated the much-vaunted UCSB bats, allowing only two hits in another shutout win. Again, Cobb pitched another gem, but junior outfielder Bridgette Pagano’s solo shot to left proved to be the difference in the 49er’s 1-0 win. With the loss, Cobb fell to 14-7 on the year having lost her last two decisions, this time at the hands of another first-year phenomenon in Taylor Petty. Petty, whose 1.25 ERA leads all conference starters, moved to 11-4 on the year after throwing her 12th complete game.
“They mixed it up a lot,” Beristianos said. “They worked all corners of the plate. We just could not make the adjustments to win.”
In the rubber match yesterday, Long Beach looked to leave no doubt with a crushing 6-1 win at the 49er Softball Complex, completing the series sweep. UCSB came out with every intention to win however, with senior infielder Christine Ramos scoring unearned after an error by the LBSU shortstop. Long Beach would respond in their half of the first after a sac fly from junior catcher Brandy Reyes brought Pagano home to tie the score at 1-1. From there, it was all Long Beach after a four-run second inning that stretched their advantage to 5-1. Senior infielder Jennifer Griffin, who finished with a career-high four RBI, collected three of them in the second after a three RBI double cleared the once-loaded base paths with two outs. The 49ers would add another run in the fourth to go up 6-1, but by then the real damage was done. Freshman reliever Jenny Liepman turned in a solid performance after Cobb was pulled in the second, allowing only one run on one hit while walking four. Turner pitched another complete game for Long Beach, allowing only six hits from a Gaucho squad that struggled all weekend.