LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 22 UC San Diego softball team upset No. 5 Dominguez Hills 5-2 and 7-5 in California Collegiate Athletic Association play on Saturday afternoon at Triton Softball Field.
The pair of wins moves the Tritons to 20-8 overall on the season and 14-6 in the CCAA. CSUDH, which came into the weekend in first place in the CCAA, drops to 25-6 and 16-4 in league play. UCSD took three of four games from CSUDH over the weekend.
Camille Gaito (12-4) pitched 10 innings over the two games on Saturday, surrendering just a pair of hits and a single unearned run while striking out 10. She accounted for all 21 outs in the first game to earn the win and then shutout the Toros the final three innings of game two to secure the save.
Kris Lesovsky was 3-for-7 on the afternoon, providing a solo home run in game two before lacing the game-winning two-run single in the fourth inning of UCSD's come-from-behind victory. Lesovsky batted .400 (6-for-15) with four RBI and three stolen bases on the weekend.
"It was an exciting day and [Cal State] Dominguez Hills is a great team. We came out hungry and aggressive today," said UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens. "Our team made some awesome adjustments at the plate and kept their energy up. We didn't let down the whole day."
Nicole Spangler led off the second inning with a single and gave way to pinch runner Anne Wethe. Wethe advanced to second on a passed ball before moving over to third on an infield single by Caitlin Brown. Maria Sykes followed with a deep fly ball to right field that looked like it was going to drop in the gap, but right fielder Daisy Beltran made a diving catch at the wall. Wethe tagged-up from third to score UCSD's first run and Brown moved over to third on the play.
Emily McQuaid lifted a harmless fly ball to right center with two out, but Beltran and center fielder Khrissy Steele collided on the play, letting the ball drop as Brown scampered home to give UCSD a 2-0 lead.
Up 3-1 in the fourth, Sykes led off with a double to right center and McQuaid came aboard through an error by the CSUDH third baseman. Lesovsky cracked her first hit of the day into left to score Sykes to put the Tritons up by three. Then, with runners on first and third, Lesovsky stole second base, forcing a throw to the bag by the catcher. McQuaid took off from third on the throw across the infield and slid under the tag after a late throw back to home plate.
Equipped with a four-run lead, Michelle Escamilla took over for Gaito in the seventh inning. However, Kaci McGinnis and Paige Rhodes singled before Escamilla hit Elizabeth Jimenez with a pitch to load the bases with no out.
Gaito re-entered the game for Escamilla and quickly struck out Ciara Campos before forcing Catherine Brown to pop out to Sykes at second base. Veronica Vazquez singled up the middle to make it 5-2, but Gaito sat-down Jessica Hall on an outside curveball to end the game.
"This is was [Gaito's] weekend because she was a big part of all the games," said Gerkcens. "The rest of our staff has shining moments, but definitely Camille was a star for us."
Gaito went 2-1 in the four-game set, striking out 18 batters while allowing just six hits and a pair of runs in 23 innings of work. CSUDH hit a measly .076 off Gaito.
Kayla Hensel started game two for the Tritons, but lasted just two and two-third innings after giving up four runs on seven Toro hits. Down 4-0, Lesovsky popped a solo home run to left field to get the Tritons back within three by the end of the third.
Stephanie Jimenez notched an RBI single off Jennifer Manuel (2-1) to make it 5-1 in the fourth, but UCSD rallied in its half of the inning to re-take the lead.
With runners on first and second and two-down, Manuel and Sykes drew consecutive walks to force in a run and make it 5-2. Jimenez handed the ball to Karen Peterson to help get out of the jam, but UCSD's Monique Portugal made the move back-fire with a two-run single through the left side.
Down 5-4 with runners on second and third, Lesovsky went the other way with Peterson's offering, driving in Portugal and Sykes to hand UCSD a one-run lead. Kirsten Willmon followed with a single, but Peterson was able to escape by striking out Romero.
"I wish Kris was here for four more years. To have your senior to come up and get the game-winning RBIs is big. She took her time at the plate, had a plan and took the pitch outside to get it done for us," said Gerckens.
Gaito took the circle in the top of the fifth and didn't allow the Toros a hit the rest of the game. Willmon added an insurance RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to give UCSD a two-run cushion.
"To be able to come back after being down four runs really says a lot about the team. Defense wins games but you have got to score runs," said Gerckens.
The Tritons are on the road next weekend when they travel to Arcata to take on Humboldt State on Friday and Saturday, March 17 and 18. UCSD returns home on March 25 and 26 to welcome Cal State East Bay to the friendly confines of Triton Softball Stadium.