TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In opening the Unconquered Classic, UC Santa Barbara pulled out the tight 2-1 win over Wichita State behind strong performances in the circle from Andriaa Collins and Alex Pingree.
Collins held the Shockers to just one run through the first four innings in improving her record to 2-1 on the season, while Pingree earned her first save of the year after striking out four batters, two in the final inning.
Away from the circle, freshman Stacy Cavazos also had a big game for the Gauchos as she clubbed the game-winning home run and also made a lead-saving putout in the sixth.
The Gauchos scored early as Shelby Wisdom knocked an RBI single to right center with two outs.
Kristen Clark bunted a lead off single to the second baseman to get on base and promptly stole second during the following at bat. Clark has now recorded at least one swipe in six consecutive games.
Wisdom's two out single then gave the Gauchos an early 1-0 advantage.
The Shockers got on the board in the third inning after a wild pitch advanced a runner home from third. With score tied 1-1, Collins was able to get the Gauchos out of the pinch by forcing the next batter into a groundout to second.
After a scoreless fourth inning, Stacy Cavazos broke the tie with a leadoff solo shot crushed over center field, which would prove to be the game winner. The freshman now leads the team with three homers.
Ahead by one run, UCSB made a switch in the circle as Pingree went in for Collins, who allowed only four hits and an earned run.
The sophomore pitcher protected the Gauchos' lead as she allowed only one runner to get into scoring position.
In the bottom of the sixth, a sacrifice bunt advanced Ashley Johnson to second with only one out. Pingree then recorded a strikeout with the next batter, but she would need help from her fielders to officially get out of the inning.
Paige Mason singled up the middle and advanced Johnson to third who decided to turn the corner and go for the score. However, Cavazos threw a strike to MeShalon Moore who tagged Johnson for the final out.
Pingree officially picked up the save after dealing two strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh and forcing the final batter to lineout to the shortstop.
In their second game of the Unconquered Classic in Tallahassee, Florida, UC Santa Barbara (8-3) used terrific pitching and an offensive outburst to take care of business against Northern Iowa (7-4), defeating the Panthers 15-1. The win is the Gauchos' seventh in their last eight games.
With a five run lead in the top of the seventh inning, UCSB exploded for 10 runs, making use of some shaky defense by Northern Iowa fielders. In all the Panthers had 6 errors in the inning, and key hits by Kristen Clark, Arianna Palomares, and MeShalon Moore made sure the opportunity was not wasted.
Shelby Wisdom (4-2) led Santa Barbara once again with 7 innings of quality pitching, striking out 5 batters while giving up just 1 run and 5 hits. The performance lowers her ERA to 1.97, best on the team.
The Panthers took an early lead in the bottom of the second, as Nicole Fisher hit her second home run of the season, a solo shot.
Wisdom cruised the rest of the way after that however, allowing scattered hits without facing any serious danger. The Panthers had a double in both the fifth and sixth innings, but were unable to push either across home plate.
Before the game was stretched far out of reach in the seventh, the Gauchos attack was already in full swing.
Emily Brucelas led off the top of the third with a solo home run to tie the game. Stacy Cavazos followed with a walk, and Clark singled her in after a steal of second. Wisdom's RBI groundout brought Santa Barbara's lead to 3-1.
The Gauchos take the field again tomorrow morning with a rematch against Northern Iowa, with the scheduled start time at 8:30am PST.