After splitting a doubleheader on Saturday with the Matadors, the University of California, Santa Barbara was able to defeat California State Northridge thanks to the heroics of Boser, who went 3-3, including the eventual game winning solo home run, to help the Gauchos edge out a 6-5 victory that ended up being a lot tougher than it had to be.
The Gauchos wasted no time getting on the board and putting the pressure on the Matadors. Jessica Soria led off with a single and promptly stole second base, her 22nd of the year. Arianna Palomares promptly laced a single up the middle, and Matador centerfielder Madalyne Handy lost the handle on the ball, allowing the speedy Soria to come around to score for the first run of the ballgame. Palomares came around to score herself two batters later thanks to a single from second baseman Kathryn Pilpil, and the Gauchos were off to an early 2-0 advantage. This knocked Northridge starter Brianna Elder out of the game, as she recorded just one-third of an inning of work.
The next pitcher for the Matadors, Shelly Tait, didn’t fare much better.
The second inning saw Boser begin her perfect day at the plate, as she led off with a triple. She then picked up the final 60 feet to score on an infield groundout by Soria.
On the mound for the Gauchos was first-year Alex Pingree, who was sharp as can be from the first pitch. She wasn’t overpowering, notching just a lone strikeout, but through four innings of work she allowed just two base hits. Pingree also benefited from some excellent defensive work from catcher Sami Stark, shortstop Keilani Jennings and Boser over at first base.
The third inning saw the Matadors go with a third pitcher, Alexa Limon, but the result was more of the same as the Gauchos continued their excellent hitting display.
Stark, not known for her offensive prowess, came through with an RBI single, scoring Jennings and advancing Jessica Reichner to third. The Gauchos added another run thanks to a double by Boser that easily scored Reichner and gave the Gauchos a comfortable 5-0 lead.
Despite the fact that Pingree seemed to be pitching on cruise control, the Gauchos elected to bring Andriana Collins out to the pitcher’s circle for the fifth inning, and she was looking to wrap things up for the Gauchos with her five run safety net.
However, the lead that took four innings to build up crumbled in just over 20 minutes of game action. Collins gave up two hits to Jennifer Tyler and Mia Pagan—who came in as a replacement for Handy—and then a crucial error by Pilpil on a would be routine ground ball from Leann Lopez allowed Tyler to score. Korinne Randazzo then followed that up with a 2-RBI single that just escaped the outstretched glove of Jennings at short, and just like that the lead was 5-3 with nobody out.
Pingree was then promptly brought back in to pitch for Collins to try and finish what she had started. She got the first two batters out on weak grounders, and just as it looked like the Gauchos might escape the inning with the lead intact, Pingree gave up a two-run home run to Crystal Maas that left the game tied at 5-5.
This breakdown clearly meant nothing to Lauren Boser, who came up with two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the fifth inning. Already with a double and a triple on the day, she one-upped herself by driving a 2-1 pitch from Limon deep over the centerfield wall and into the adjacent Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for a solo home run and a 6-5 lead for her fellow Gauchos.
Shelby Wisdom, despite having pitched in both games of Saturday’s doubleheader, was brought in from right field to close out the game for the Gauchos. Wisdom and her bionic arm displayed her usual excellent command and shut down the Matadors for the sixth and seventh innings to deliver the Gauchos their hard fought 6-5 victory.
The victory gave the Gauchos the 2-1 series edge against the Matadors and brought the team back to .500 in the Big West (9-9, 28-21 overall). Cal State Northridge fell to 7-11 in Big West Conference play. The Gauchos will travel to Hawaii for a three game series starting on Friday, May 3.