The only thing on the mind of UCSB Head Coach Brie Galicinao after Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to UC Riverside was: “We want it back.”
[media-credit id=20281 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit] Despite winning the series 2-1, the Gauchos dropped the final game at Campus Diamond 11-8 in a high-scoring nail-biter which snapped their nine-game winning streak that had tied their 1993 record for most consecutive wins in a season. UCSB improves to 22-19 overall and 6-3 in the Big West while the Highlanders drop to 10-24 with a conference record of 3-6.
“Our offense came alive [this series] and has continued from the Cal Poly games,” said Galicinao. “We took the series, but it’s tough to drop the last game.”
The game, which included three lead changes, began with Riverside taking an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. The Gauchos quickly responded, walking in a run after freshman designated hitter Kendall Gill was hit by a pitch.
Reigning Big West Player of the Week Keilani Jennings gave UCSB their first lead in the third inning on a three-run homer, her second home run of the series. Leading the team offensively hitting 2-4 with two runs and three RBI, the sophomore shortstop is No. 7 in the Big West in slugging percentage (.545) and No. 4 in total number of runs scored (24).
“She’s been coming up clutch and everything’s coming together for her offensively,” Galicinao said. “She’s looked really solid when it mattered.”
By the end of the fourth inning, the Gauchos had extended their lead to 8-2, but nine runs by the Highlanders in the fifth and sixth innings were too much for UCSB’s offense to handle. At the top of the fifth, Riverside gained all the momentum, aided by two home runs from sophomore catcher Alexis Pickett and sophomore centerfielder Kayla White. Two errors in the sixth by the Gauchos would hand Riverside the win.
“There were a couple of plays and a couple of pitches I’d like back,” Galicinao said, whose team outhit UCR 14-11. “We were capable of scoring more runs off that many hits.”
In Saturday’s 7-5 win, UCSB got on the board quick. Up 1-0 in the second inning, four singles along with two Highlander errors allowed the Gauchos four runs. Two more runs in the third gave UCSB a dominant 7-0 lead. Freshman centerfielder McKenzie Kane led the Gauchos offensively, batting 3-4 with two runs.
Riverside found a way to string together a comeback, scoring at least one run in each of the final four innings, including a home run in the seventh from junior third baseman Brittany Keeney, who led the attack for the Highlanders hitting 3-4 with two runs and an RBI and ranks No. 5 in slugging percentage. Fortunately for the Gauchos, the comeback would fall short.
In Saturday’s 3-0 victory, junior pitcher Krista Cobb recorded the second no hitter of her career. She only allowed two walks, allowing the Gaucho offense to clinch the game, led by freshman second baseman Kathryn Pilpil and Kane, who each hit 2-3.
“[Cobb has] really figured it out since Fullerton, when she came out with a demeanor that makes me want to give her the ball,” Galicinao said. “She’s doing the things she’s capable of.”
UCSB resumes play next weekend at Campus Diamond against Cal State Northridge.