Pair Of One-Run Wins Gets The Pacific Softball Another Series Victory
Picking up right where they left off one week prior, the Pacific softball team swept its ig West Conference doubleheader against UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) on Friday, March 29. The Tigers took the opening game, 6-5, before securing the night cap, 3-2. The wins for the Tigers pushed their season-best winning streak to five games while improving their record to 20-16 on the year and 5-0 in the Big West. The losses dropped the Gauchos to 20-13 overall and 1-4 in conference games.
Game 1: Pacific 6 - UC Santa Barbara 5
Facing the Gauchos' top pitcher, Shelby Wisdom, right out of the gate, the Tigers' offense took control of the game early with three quick runs in the bottom of the first inning. Behind their seniors, the Tigers picked up a trio of hits to get to Wisdom in the inning. Breaking the seal for the Tigers first was Amy Moore as Pacific's hottest hitter drove home her classmate, Megan Hom with a single through the right side. The RBI was memorable for Moore as it was her 100th career run batted in as she became just the eighth Tiger in program history to reach the century milestone.
Not to be outdone, Nikki Armagost, the Tigers' seventh player to drive in 100 runs last season, followed right behind Moore with a double off the wall in right to bring home the second run of the inning as junior Megan Foglesong scored from second after having walked earlier in the inning. Pacific would add a third run on a fly ball to right after Moore induced a bad throw by the Gauchos to allow her to score from third. In addition to getting the three-run inning, Pacific would also chase Wisdom from the game, setting up a second showdown with the ace later in the evening.
After the three run first spotted Pacific the early lead, the Tigers found themselves in a dog fight the rest of the way as the Gauchos refused to go down quietly. In the second, the two teams would crack the scoreboard as UCSB struck for a pair of runs at the bottom of the order behind a single and a triple. The Tigers answered back in their half of the inning as a leadoff double by senior Megan Allen turned into a run on Hom's second hit in as many innings.
Continuing their push forward, the Gauchos came back with a run in the third on a perfectly executed squeeze play by Keilani Jennings. The bunt by Jennings cut the Tiger lead to just 4-3, but in the fourth, Pacific tacked on their fifth run of the afternoon on an RBI single down the left field line by junior Taylor Petty. Petty's RBI was made possible by freshman Taylor Brink as the first-year shortstop tattooed a 1-2 pitch off the fence in center for a leadoff triple.
The Tigers' run in the fourth would be important as the Gauchos came charging back once again in their very next trip to the plate as a trio of walks would come back to bite Pacific. With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, MacKenzie Kane delivered the game-tying single back up the middle, erasing Pacific's lead and running Tiger starter, junior Tori Shepard, from the game. In relief, freshman Carly Mortensen finished off the Gauchos in the fifth before proceeding to halt UCSB's comeback efforts permanatly over the final two innings of play to set up her team to steal the win they had been working for all game.
Tied at 5-5 and set up by Mortensen, the Tigers put the ball in play in the bottom of the seventh inning and let fate do the rest as a pair of errors by Jennings at short gave Pacific the run it would need to secure the victory. In addition to the errors, heads up baserunning by Foglesong was the difference in the inning as the junior turned a basic throwing error into three bases to set up the score. Without Foglesong's recognition of the situation, the Tigers would not have been able to turn the second error of the inning into the game-winning run.
In the circle, Mortensen (4-2) picked up the win as the freshman threw 2.1 innings of one-hit ball. Her counterpart, Andriana Collins (5-2), suffered the loss after posting 5.0 innings of work while giving up four hits and three runs.
Game 2: Pacific 3 - UC Santa Barbara 2
With the results and the script of the game playing out in a similar fashion to the opening game of the day, the Tigers again used a late run to put away the Gauchos and earn their second doubleheader sweep of the season.
As they did in the first game of the day, the Tigers once again faced off against Wisdom as the Gauchos threw their ace into the circle after her one-inning stint in game one. Just as they did in the afternoon's version of the game, the Tigers again got to Wisdom early as Pacific plated a pair of runs to grab the early lead. With runners at the corners and one out in the inning, Amy Moore again came up clutch for the Tigers as the senior laced a double just past the third base bag and into the corner in left to bring home senior Megan Hom and junior Megan Foglesong for the first scores of the game. the double by Moore was her first extra-base hit of the season after posting 35-straight singles to start the season. The hit also extended her hitting streak to a season-best 10 games.
With two runs across in the first, and the game looking a lot like the first game of the day, the crowd braced for another back-and-forth battle between the two sides, only to be witness to a pitchers duel between Wisdom and sophomore Dani Bonnet. Pitching in and out of trouble throughout the night, the two second-year hurlers traded scoreless innings throughout the middle of the game until UCSB finally broke through for a single run in the top of the sixth inning. For the Gauchos, a leadoff walk paid dividens as they turned it into a run with a single and an RBI double.
Leading 2-1 and in need of some insurance in their own half of the sixth, the Tigers' offense went to work in support of Bonnet, using small ball to scratch across another run. Behind three perfectly executed bunts including a leadoff bunt single by senior Nikki Armagost, the Tigers set up their scoring threat in search of their third run. With a runner at third and two-outs in the inning, senior Megan Allen once again came through when her team needed her most as she roped sent a double off the wall in right to plate what would be the game's winning run.
Allen's RBI double proved to be of utter importance for the Tigers as the Gauchos once again refused to go quietly into the night as Sami Stark lifted a 2-1 Bonnet pitch down the left field line and just inside the foul pole to leadoff the seventh and cut Pacific's lead to just one run at 3-2. The solo home run would be all the Gauchos would muster in their final gasp effort as Bonnet settled in and let her defense do the work to finish the game. In all, Bonnet (4-7) went 7.0 complete innings to earn the victory as she gave up six hits and two runs while striking out three and walking three. Wisdom (10-8) suffered the loss in her second stint in the circle as she threw all six innings for the Gauchos while allowing five hits and three runs while striking out three and walking four.
Pacific will look for the series sweep on Saturday, March 30 as the two teams meet for the third and final time at Bill Simoni Field. The game is scheduled for noon.