Softball Grabs Doubleheader Split Against UC Santa Barbara
Cielo Meza improved to 4-0 on the year with a win in game one.
Long Beach, Calif. - Cielo Meza pitched a complete game, her third of the season all coming in Big West play as the Beach won the first game of the three-game series with UC Santa Barbara 4-1, but then fell in the second game 5-2 to finish the day with a split.
Long Beach State (20-21-1, 8-3 Big West) grabbed an early lead and never looked back in the first game of the series against the Gauchos. Hannah Cookson singled to put a runner on, and Jessica Flores followed with a double to put two on. With two outs, Julia Lombardi hit a groundball to third where it was misplayed by Kayla Krantz, allowing Cookson to score for the opening run of the game.
Redshirt Freshman Cielo Meza had thrown 24 straight scoreless innings to start the season after returning from injury, but that streak was finally snapped in the second inning by UC Santa Barbara (26-21, 6-5 Big West). Alyssa Diaz hit a leadoff double, and after a sacrifice pushed her to third base, an RBI groundout by Emily Brucelas plated Diaz to tie the game.
Meza settled in from there, allowing just one additional hit while striking out three on the way to her fourth win of the year and allowing just the one run.
Long Beach State broke the deadlock in the fourth inning. Aniesa Maulupe was hit by a pitch to start the rally, and then a walk to Lauren MacLeod and a second hit batter, this time Mattie Scheele, loaded the bases. LT Torres then came through with the big hit, and RBI double that went all the way to the wall, scoring all three runners and giving the Beach a 4-1 lead that would hold the rest of the way.
The latter half of the doubleheader was a classic example of the old cliché, a “game of inches,” as two hard hit balls from the 49ers that ended up just in the wrong place ended up contributing to the difference between the teams in the second game.
Neither team was able to score through the first three innings as both pitchers, Ashley Wright for UCSB and Christina Clermont for the Beach, were in command in the first time through the lineup.
A leadoff single for the Gauchos in the fourth got things going offensively, and while a spectacular diving stop from LT Torres erased the lead runner, doubles from Sierra Altmeyer and Brucelas gave UCSB a 2-0 lead.
Long Beach State looked to have tied the game with a big hit in the bottom half. Putting two runners on with one out, Julia Lombardi smacked a liner into the gap in right field, but the ball hopped the fence for a ground-rule double, forcing Fry to return to third base after scoring. Wright would then get out of the inning with no further damage to hold a 2-1 lead.
That score would hold until the sixth inning. Clermont picked up two quick hits in the first half, but after a walk to Altmeyer, Diaz doubled home another run and moved to third, where she scored on a wild pitch. Brucelas then homered on the next pitch to give UCSB a 5-1 lead.
Jessica Flores singled in the bottom half to leave a runner on for Nichole Fry, who hit a sky-high ball that just clipped the top of the fence in left field, staying in rather than going over for a home run in the second batted ball where two inches would have made all the difference. Instead, a single by Julia Lombardi brought home one run, but the Beach left the bases loaded and didn’t threaten in the seventh on the way to a 5-2 loss.
The Beach and the Gauchos will find out the winner of the series in the rubber game, held at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
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