27-Hit Afternoon Propels Gauchos to Series Win Over Central Coast Rivals Cal Poly

(Photo by Jeff Liang)
(Photo by Jeff Liang)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – The UC Santa Barbara softball team had one of its best hitting days of the season in its pair of wins over Central Coast rivals Cal Poly on Friday afternoon, as it defeated the Mustangs 9-8 and 7-6 at Campus Diamond.

UCSB's victories gave it its first series win of 2021 as the team improved to 7-18 on the season and 4-4 in Big West play.

Game one: UCSB 9, Cal Poly 8

Cal Poly came back from a 7-3 deficit in the top of the seventh, but the Gauchos had a comeback of their own in the bottom half of the frame as a perfectly placed bunt by junior second baseman Maci Fines tied the game back up and a double to left field by sophomore catcher Teah Thies ended the game in a thrilling open to the Blue-Green Rivalry.

Lily Amos homered to left field for Cal Poly in the top of the fourth following a quiet start to the game for both teams, but the Gauchos answered right back with six runs over the next two innings.

Junior left fielder Sammy Fabian headed home to tie the game up for the Gauchos after junior first baseman Rayna Cohen stole second, and then Cohen scored on a Fines double to take the 2-1 lead.

In the fifth inning, freshman third baseman Ashley Donaldson doubled to right center to score freshman shortstop Madelyn McNally, Fines hit a two-RBI single, and sophomore right fielder Ally Nodohara singled to right and scored Fines to up the Gauchos' lead to 6-1.

In the top of the sixth, Cal Poly's Hailey Martin hit another home run for the Mustangs to cut the deficit to four runs, but again UCSB answered in its next opportunity when Donaldson hit a sac fly to right to score freshman Cleo Smith.

However, Cal Poly rallied in the seventh, scoring five runs from its third and fourth home runs of the game as well as an infield error.

Trailing for just the second time in the game, the Gauchos went to the work in the seventh, with both Fabian and Cohen reaching on bunts to start the inning. Then, Fines beat the Cal Poly shift on an expertly placed bunt dropping in the infield between the 5-6 hole, as Fabian scored to tie the game up at 8-8 and Cohen advanced to third.

After the Mustangs picked up an out in the next at-bat, Thies stepped up to the plate and doubled to left field, scoring Cohen as she walked the game off for the Gauchos.

Game two: UCSB 7, Cal Poly 6

Thanks to a four-run second inning and a three-run fourth-inning, the Gauchos led throughout in the second game of the day but Cal Poly made things interesting towards the end, though UCSB was able to hang on to claim the series win.

Nodohara plated freshman Lauren Lewis for the first run of the game on a one-out double to right field, and that was followed up by a pair of two-out singles, the first scoring two runs and coming from sophomore centerfielder Tyler Goldstein, and the second coming off the bat of Donaldson to score Goldstein and give UCSB a 4-0 lead.

The Mustangs fired back, scoring a pair of runs in the third inning and then taking the lead on a three-run fourth, with the go-ahead run coming off a Lily Amos infield single.

Continuing the trend from the first game, the timely hits kept coming in for the Gauchos as the hosts regained the lead in the bottom half of the inning.

Fabian singled through the right side and McNally scored on an error to tie the game back up, and then UCSB went back ahead on a Fines double that scored Fabian and Cohen, though Fines was put out on an attempt to reach third base.

Two innings later, Cal Poly managed to load up the bases with one out and earn a walked-in run, but UCSB freshman reliever Lexi Campbell managed to get out of the inning with that being the only damage, and she managed to shut down the Mustangs in the seventh to pick up her first save of the season on freshman pitcher Camryn Snyder's win.

Fabian went 6-of-8 while Fines put together a 5-of-8 showing with six RBIs over the course of the day. McNally earned four hits as she continued to raise her league-leading batting average.

The Gauchos look to complete their first series sweep of the season tomorrow at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast on BigWest.TV and live stats will be available on UCSBGauchos.com.