SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara limited UC Riverside to just one run as they swept the doubleheader at Campus Diamond on Friday.
The Gauchos improved their record to 31-23 and 12-11 in Big West play. The Highlanders fall to 19-35 and 3-20 in conference.
Shelby Wisdom pitched a gem in the opening game as she blanked the Highlanders and struck out nine in a 1-0 Gaucho victory.
The sophomore ace improved her record 17-15.
UC Riverside managed to keep the Gauchos from increasing the deficit by holding them to two hits after the first inning. The Highlanders, though, could not capitalize on their defensive effort, as they were only able to get a runner in scoring position on two occasions through the first six innings.
But in the seventh, UCR showed that it would not go down easy.
The visitors put their first runner on base when Dionne Anderson used her speed in a bunt single laid down to the pitcher. She went on to steal second and advanced to third base off Sami Stark's throwing error.
Now with a runner on third, the Gauchos were in their first pinch of the game. With an opportunity to tie, Ashley Ercolano grounded the ball to Keilani Jennings at shortstop as Anderson tried to make a break for home plate. Jennings reacted immediately by throwing the ball over to Stark, and suddenly Anderson found herself in a pickle. The Gauchos were able to run her down for the second out of the inning, but Riverside still had a runner on second.
The Highlanders would earn a walk, but, fittingly, it was Wisdom who ended the game as she got Alex Sanchez to go down swinging on a scorching fastball.
The Gauchos completed the sweep of the doubleheader with a convincing 5-1 victory in game two. Both teams finished with 10 hits, but the stout UCSB defense limited the Highlanders to nothing more than one run.
Santa Barbara only hit singles in the first game, but the Gauchos found their power swings early in the second game when Keilani Jennings and Kathryn Pilpil hit back-to-back doubles to give their team a 3-0 lead.
Jennings' two RBI double was roped to deep centerfield, while Pilpil was able to bring her across home plate with a shot hit to left.
Pilpil would pick up another RBI just one inning later when she entered the batter's box with the bases loaded. The junior has paced the club this season in on-base percentage and she used her patient hitting to draw her team-high 26th walk of the season and advanced every runner, giving UCSB the 4-0 lead.
Shelby Wisdom, proving yet again that she can do it all for the Gauchos, gave UCSB its fifth and final run of the game when she cranked a shot over the centerfield wall. The one-run jack put her team on top 5-0 going into the fifth inning.
Alex Pingree was given the start in game two and continued what Wisdom started in the first game by keeping the Highlanders scoreless. In the fifth inning, though, UC Riverside was trying to give the freshman a run for her money.
With one out and runners on first and second, Pingree kept her composure and struck out a swinging Marissa Escalante. Pingree walked the next batter to find herself in a bases loaded situation, but the freshman was not phased and recorded yet another strikeout to end the inning, leaving the Highlanders still searching for their first run of the day.
Wisdom came in to relieve Pingree in the sixth inning and wrapped up the win for UCSB by only allowing one run.
Pingree blanked UC Riverside when she was in the circle and fanned four batters to elevate her record to 8-4.
The Gauchos will be looking for the series sweep tomorrow on Senior Day when Jessica Soria and Keilani Jennings will both be playing in their final home game at UCSB.