FRESNO, Calif. – In the opening game of the Fresno State Invitational, the UC Santa Barbara softball team (4-7) fell to tournament hosts Fresno State (9-3) as the Bulldogs rallied back from a 7-1 deficit after the top of the third inning to claim a 10-9 victory on Thursday night at Margie Wright Diamond.
The Gauchos amassed 10 hits, led by multi-hit performances from both junior centerfielder Rayna Cohen and junior second baseman Maci Fines, and a three-RBI showing from senior first baseman Devan Sperry.
Fresno State, which is receiving votes in this week's ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, took the lead in the first inning on a passed ball, but the lead wouldn't last for very long as the Gauchos got going in the third.
Sophomore OP Ally Nodohara was walked in the next plate appearance to load the bases, from which the Gauchos tacked on back-to-back runs as Sperry was hit by a pitch, scoring Fabian, and sophomore catcher Teah Thies reached on an error, bringing in Cohen although Nodohara was put out at third base.
Fines singled to reload the bases, and then the Gauchos scored the equivalent of an inside-the-park home run with a three-RBI single from freshman shortstop Korie Thomas, clearing the bases and putting the Gauchos ahead 7-1.
A frustrated Bulldogs squad answered immediately, scoring four runs on three singles in the bottom half of the inning to cut the deficit to 7-5 before junior pitcher Emily Schuttish got the visitors out of the inning with a strikeout.
In the next inning, the hosts filled up the bases after kicking off the inning with an error, a single, and a hit batter, before another error brought a run across the plate.
Schuttish managed to strike out the next two batters, but Fresno State scored in back-to-back spots at the plate to take the 10-7 lead after four.
Sperry launched a two-run bomb in the seventh inning to get the Gauchos back within one, but UCSB couldn't get the tying run across the plate despite both Fines and freshman infielder Sam Denehy reaching base afterward.
UCSB's matchup against Fresno State was the first of six for the Gauchos this weekend. They take on Pacific at 9 a.m. and Ohio State at 2 p.m. tomorrow, with live stats available for both games on UCSBGauchos.com.
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