LA JOLLA, Calif. – No. 19 UC San Diego saw its five-game win streak come to an end Tuesday night at Triton Softball Field, as Hawaii Hilo swept the Tritons by scores of 6-1 and 7-2.
The non-conference doubleheader sweep ended the Vulcans four-game losing streak and is part of UHH’s 10-game mainland trip, including six Pacific West Conference games and four against West Regional foes.
The Tritons fall to 18-6 overall following the two loses, while Hawaii Hilo improves to 17-13.
In the opener, the Tritons left seven runners on base and couldn’t capitalize with runners in scoring position to fall 6-1.
UCSD was the first on the scoreboard after manufacturing a run in the bottom of the first. Katie Saunders, who entered the day 8-for-18 with nine RBI in her last four games, continued her hot streak by delivering an RBI single to center field on a 1-2 pitch to put the Tritons ahead 1-0 after the opening inning.
The Vulcans responded, however, the next half inning with three runs on one hit. After a pair of walks, Rebecca Lee drilled a shot to left center that hit the top of the wall and bounced over to give UHH a three-run home run and make the score 3-1.
UHH added a single run in each of the fourth, fifth and sixth innings to make the final 6-1.
The Tritons best chance to get back into the game was in the sixth after McKenna Clewett, Saunders and Caitlin Brown started the inning with a single each. Amani Proctor followed with a sharply hit ball to the shortstop that was nearly caught in the air, forcing Saunders to hold at second, allowing the Vulcans to record a 6-2-5 double play. The Vulcans escaped the inning unscathed after a fielder’s choice and followed with a clean seventh to seal the victory.
The Triton offense was led by a pair of hits and an RBI from Saunders and two hits from Kirsten Willmon.
Alexis Edwards, who entered with wins in her last two starts, was handed her second loss of the season after allowing four earned runs in four innings. She walked five and struck out one. The sophomore’s ERA still stands at 1.81 on the season.
Hilo was led by two hits and four RBI from Lee. Ashley Nelson was awarded the win after throwing a complete game with one earned run allowed.
The Tritons fell victim to a tough third inning and stranded 10 runners to lose 7-2 in the nightcap.
After two scoreless frames to start the game, the Vulcans exploded with five hits and four runs in the third. Lee, who upped her average to .571 on the season after the day, connected on a grand slam, her ninth home run of the year, to make the score 4-0.
UCSD added a run in the fourth to cut the deficit to three, 4-1, after four innings. Brown led off with a solo home run to right center on a 1-0 count for the tally. The dinger marked her second of the season and 22nd of her career.
Hawaii Hilo added a pair of runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to make the score 7-1 with 1.5 innings to play.
The Tritons threatened in the sixth, but like game one, the timely hit was absent. Three consecutive singles to lead off the bottom of the sixth from Proctor, Bianca Devoto and Willmon loaded the bases with no outs. Romero followed and plated a run with an RBI single to right field on 3-2 count to move each runner up a base. Once again the Vulcans turned a timely double play with the sacks loaded, however, this one of the 1-2-3 variety. UHH ended the threat with a groundout and followed with a spotless seventh to win, 7-2.
UCSD finished with 10 hits in the loss, led by two apiece from Saunders, Willmon and Romero.
Alayna Brenman suffered her first collegiate loss after allowing six earned runs in five innings. She finished with five strikeouts to put her total at 28 on the season, tied for the team lead.
Lee’s two hits, three runs and four RBI led the Vulcans in the win. Hannah Peterson picked up her sixth win of the season after throwing a complete game with two earned runs allowed and striking out four batters.
UCSD hosts Cal State Stanislaus to finish off the six game week in a California Collegiate Athletic Association four-game series. The Tritons face the Warriors on Friday, Mar. 28 with first pitch at 1 p.m. before the set concludes on Saturday, Mar. 29 at 11 a.m.