LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego softball team sent its seniors off in style Saturday as the Tritons earned their first series sweep of the season, defeating San Francisco State 4-3 in extra innings and following with a 9-4 victory in the finalé at Triton Softball Field.
UCSD now boasts a 21-13 overall record and is 17-7 in California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) play. With its ninth consecutive loss, SFSU fell to 13-20 on the season and 7-17 in the conference.
Trailing 3-2 in the day's opener, UC San Diego won in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning. Alissa Gutierrez roped a leadoff double to left and was sacrificed to third by Kirsten Willmon. Taylor Sepulveda singled to knock in Gutierrez and tie the game at 3-3. Sepulveda proceeded to steal both second and third and scored the game-winning run on Amani Proctor's ground ball.
Sepulveda finished 3-for-4 at the plate and Callie Grant was 2-for-4 as UCSD totaled 10 hits in its fourth extra-inning affair of the season. Alexis Edwards pitched all nine innings and moved to 4-2 on the year with the victory. It was Edwards' second win of the series.
The Gators totaled nine hits, three of those coming off the bat of Ashley Huff. Six others had one hit apiece. Marisa Ibarra went 8.1 innings, dropping to 10-8 with the loss.
UCSD got out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Grant led off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Emily McQuaid. She stole third and scored the game's first run on a sacrifice fly by Mya Romero. With two outs, Caitlin Brown kept it going with a double to left-center. Nicole Spangler followed with a single, and an error in the SFSU outfield on the play allowed Brown to come around and score.
A walk and back-to-back singles by Jennifer Lewis and Cara Spence led to SFSU's first run in the top of the fourth inning.
In the seventh, pinch hitter Marisa Andrade tied the score at 2-2 with a one-out, solo home run that just cleared the fence in straight-away center field.
The Gators went up 3-2 in the top of the ninth inning. Sarah Catania singled, was sacrificed over to second and took third on a base hit by Huff. With Gabby Reta at the plate, SFSU successfully executed a suicide squeeze to take the lead.
In game two, the Tritons posted at least one run in each of the first five innings and never trailed, matching a season-high with 13 hits.
Willmon was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, a triple and a RBI. McQuaid was 2-for-3 with two runs and a RBI, while Brown also went 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI. She cracked her team-leading sixth home run to start the third inning.
Triton starting pitcher Jennifer Manuel went 4.0 innings, surrendering four runs on four hits and earning the win to move to 7-1 overall. Michelle Escamilla threw three scoreless innings and gave up just one hit to pick up her first save.
For the Gators, Catania had two of the team's five hits, scored a run and drove in another. Spence drove in two runs with a homer to left field in the fourth inning. Starter Emily Gibson (3-10) lasted just 2.1 innings, giving up six runs on nine hits.
UCSD held a 6-1 lead at the end of three complete innings, striking for a single run in the first, two in the second and three more in the third. The Gators put together their largest push in the fourth by plating three runs. However, UCSD answered right back with two runs in the bottom half, making the score 8-4.
It was the final regular season home game for Triton seniors Escamilla, Dyanna Imoto and Spangler.
The Tritons return to the road to compete in the three-day Tournament of Champions, hosted by Cal State Stanislaus April 5-7 in Turlock. UCSD opens play Friday with games against Cal Baptist (12:15 p.m.), Grand Canyon (3:45 p.m.) and Dominican (6 p.m.).
-- UCSDtritons.com --