Gauchos Unable to Hold Onto Early Lead, Fall to No. 20 Florida State

Lainey DePompa (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Lainey DePompa (Photo by Tony Mastres)

HONOLULU, Hawaii – After grabbing the early lead against No. 20 Florida State (16-0), UC Santa Barbara (6-12) was unable to hold on, falling 5-1 in the first game of the Bank of Hawaii Invitational on Friday afternoon.

UCSB got on the scoreboard when senior Lainey DePompa hit her third home run of the season to leadoff for the Gauchos at the top of the second inning. The homer was the first given up by Florida State pitcher Lacey Waldrop this year. 

The Seminoles first threatened the Gauchos' lead at the bottom of the same inning. Erika Leonard was hit by a pitch to leadoff the inning and one out later, Courtney Senas hit the ball off of pitcher Shelby Wisdom's right leg for an infield base hit. The Gauchos were able to leave the two base runners stranded, retiring the next pair of batters in order 

With two outs in the third, reigning Big West Player of the Week Jessica Soria hit a high bouncing chopper to third base and then advanced to second on a wild pitch during McKnezie Kane's ensuing at-bat. Kane drew a walk to put two runners on, but Waldrop grabbed the third out on a full-count ground out by Kathryn Pilpil.

Florida State was able to tie the game at the bottom of third. With two outs, Shayla Jackson hit a ground ball up the middle. Maddie O'Brien followed with a base hit to right field. Kane was unable to field the ball cleanly and, as it rolled to the fence, O'Brien was able to come home from first base, knotting the game at 1-1.

The Seminoles grabbed the lead in the fourth. With one out, Courtney Senas hit a slow rolling grounder to Gaucho shortstop Keilani Jennings. She was able to beat out the throw to first base and then stole second. Mallory Borden followed with a home run hit over the left center field fence, putting Florida State ahead, 3-1.

At the bottom of the fifth, Andriana Collins came in to relieve Wisdom in the circle and retired the side. Soria led off the next inning with a bunt single, but she was called out on the next play when Kane hit into a fielder's choice. Pilpil was able to reach first when she hit a ground ball to the pitcher that first baseman Kelly Hensley failed to catch. Waldrop retired the next two batters on a pair of fly outs to keep the Gaucho runners stranded. They would prove to be the final UCSB runners of the game.

In the sixth, Erika Leonard led off with a double hit down the right field line. One out later, Senas singled through the left side, driving Leonard home. Mallory Borden followed with a grounder hit to left field to put runners on the corners. The Gauchos were able to get the second out at third base when Evelyn Morgado hit into a fielder's choice. It looked like UCSB was going to shut down the Seminoles' onslaught when Morgan Bullock hit a grounder to third, but third baseman DeJanee Moore overthrew to first, allowing pinch runner Evelyn Hoffner time to score, putting Florida State ahead, 5-1. 

Wisdom (4-5) suffered the loss after tossing the first four innings and allowing three runs, two earned, on five hits. She walked two. Collins pitched two innings of relief and allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits. She also tallied a strikeout. Soria led the Gauchos with two of the team's three hits in the game.

UCSB will continue action in Honolulu on Saturday when they face Radford at 1 p.m. (Pacific Time) and host Hawaii at 5 p.m.