UCSB Finishes Cal Poly Series with 3-1 Loss

Keilani Jennings (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Keilani Jennings (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara fell 3-1 to finish their series with Cal Poly on Wednesday.

The Gauchos already won the series against the Mustangs last Wednesday when they swept their Blue-Green rival in a doubleheader. 

This marks the third season in a row that UCSB has earned a series win over Cal Poly.

The Gauchos jumped out to a 1-0 lead to start the game and it all started with Jessica Soria getting the offense going with her first at-bat. Proving again why she is one of the top leadoff hitters in the Big West, Soria knocked a single up the middle to get on base. Arianna Palomares moved Soria over to second after she perfectly placed a sacrifice bunt down the third baseline. Keilani Jennings would go on to finish the job by crushing a double into centerfield, easily sending Soria home. 

Jennings led the team against Cal Poly, going 1-3 hit a hit and RBI.

In the bottom of the first, the Mustangs threatened to score with one out, a runner on first and, their best hitter, Kim Westlund at the plate. But before Westlund finished her at bat, Sami Stark caught Ashley Romano stealing by throwing a bullet to second base. It was the second time Stark threw a runner out in the series. 

Westlund went on to earn a walk after laying off a 3-2 pitch. She was quickly sent home to tie the game when Breana West tripled down the right field line. Cal Poly's two out rally would be short lived as Pingree forced a groundout out to end the inning.

UCSB's salvaged the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the second when their defense was put to the test. With one out and runners in scoring position, the Mustang's Emily Ceccacci hit a grounder to Jennings at shortstop who threw a perfect strike to Sami Stark to get the tag out at home. It was a crucial out, but the inning was not over yet.

The Mustangs eventually loaded the bases with two outs, but Alex Pingree got the Gauchos out of the pinch by forcing a pop out to Kathryn Pilpil at second base.

The game remained gridlocked at 1-1 through the third, but UCSB had a chance to break the tie at the top of the fourth. The Gauchos earned two walks and had runners at first and second with only one out. But the runners would not be run in, as Cal Poly's starting pitcher Jordan Yates forced back-to-back fly outs to end the inning. 

In the bottom half of the fourth, Cal Poly found itself again with bases loaded and one out. Pingree again showed her poise in the situation and forced a ground ball into the pitcher's circle and got the force out at home. The Mustangs responded with a single down the left field line that sent two runners in for the 3-1 lead. Pingree stopped the rally on her terms by striking out West with three straight pitches.

Shelby Wisdom went on to finish in relief for Pingree and threw a perfect inning in the bottom of the sixth. 

The Gauchos will continue their road trip this Saturday when they visit Long Beach State, last season's Big West champion.