SANTA BARBARA – The Cal Poly softball program took a 9-2 lead with a seven-run, sixth-inning at UC Santa Barbara on Friday, but the Gauchos scored five times in the sixth and twice in the seventh before second baseman Melanie Menor's walkoff single with one down in the bottom of the ninth won it for the hosts as the Mustangs dropped a 10-9 decision at Campus Diamond.
Cal Poly (24-24, 8-11), which stranded 12 baserunners on Friday, left the bases loaded in the top of the eighth before leaving two more on in the ninth. Gaucho catcher Samantha Lujan then led off the bottom half of the ninth with a single before Mustang freshman righthander Dakota Casper (1-10) – who pitched the final two and two-thirds innings – hit designated player Kayla Krantz. Following a sacrifice bunt from right fielder Alyssa Lazatin to push both Gaucho baserunners into scoring position, Menor delivered the game-winning hit with a single up the middle.
Early in Friday's series-opening matchup, UC Santa Barbara (19-33, 6-13) took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Shortstop Maci Fines and left fielder Sammy Fabian led off with successive infield singles and, after each moved into scoring position following a groundout by third baseman Genesis Ramirez, the Gauchos scored the opening run through first baseman Sierra Altmeyer's sacrifice fly. Center fielder Rayna Cohen then doubled UC Santa Barbara's lead with a run-scoring single that brought home Fabian.
The Mustangs stranded two baserunners in scoring position during the second before striking back in the third to tie the matchup. After senior shortstop Chelsea Convissar led off the inning with a single, freshman left fielder Noellah Ramos followed with a base hit. On the Ramos single, the throw from Fines at shortstop skipped past Altmeyer. The two-base error allowed Convissar to score and, with Ramos at third base, Mustang senior Stephanie Heyward tied the matchup with a groundout.
Following the first inning, Cal Poly starting righthander Lindsey Chalmers retired 12 of the ensuing 15 Gaucho hitters she faced to preserve the 2-2 scoreline and allow the Mustangs to surge ahead in the top of the sixth.
Junior right fielder Crimson Kaiser (above) led off the sixth inning with a single before sophomore first baseman Hailey Martin added a base hit to place Mustangs at the corner bases. Garcia then snapped the tie with a single to right field. Convissar followed with a run-scoring hit, Ramos produced a sacrifice fly, junior catcher Makenna Young added a two-RBI single and Kaiser completed a seven-run sixth with a two-run double.
The Gauchos, however, returned in the bottom half of the sixth to load the bases with one out against Chalmers and, highlighted by a two-run single from Fines, UC Santa Barbara pushed across five runs to cut Cal Poly's lead to 9-7.
UC Santa Barbara then forced home two more runs in the bottom of the seventh through a two-run single by Lazatin to tie the game, 9-9.
Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara close the 2018 regular season with 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday, May 12.