LA JOLLA, Calif. - The No. 24 UC San Diego softball team suffered its first four-game sweep in over four years to No. 7 Cal State Monterey Bay, falling 5-3 and 5-4 on Saturday afternoon in California Collegiate Athletic Association play at Triton Softball Field.
CSUMB, which downed the Tritons 5-0 and 6-5 on Friday evening, clinches a share of the CCAA regular-season title.
UCSD jumped out to an early lead in the opening game, but a six-hit third inning helped CSUMB crawl back and outlast the Tritons. After UCSD came back from a four-run deficit to tie it in the final game of the series, an RBI infield single by CSUMB's Cori Reinhardt provided the Otters the game-winner in the top of the eighth inning.
Reinhardt (20-3) earned the victory in game one and registered a save in game two, improving to 3-0 on the weekend for the Otters in the circle.
"We never gave up, unfortunately we always just always came up short and that was frustrating," said UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens. "But you could see that they were in it until the end, but [Cal State] Monterey [Bay] just showed a little bit more than we had."
UCSD (32-18, 23-13 CCAA) will be the fourth-seed for next weekend's CCAA Championship Tournament in Stockton. CSUMB (42-10, 27-7 CCAA) will be the No. 2-seed for the postseason tournament due to a 0-2 record against co-champion Cal State Dominguez Hills (41-11, 27-7 CCAA) this season.
CSUDH defeated Cal State San Bernardino twice on Saturday afternoon to take the top seed. Chico State (34-14, 25-9) swept Cal State East Bay over four games to guarantee the Wildcats the third-seed for the CCAA Championships.
UCSD senior Kris Lesovsky recorded a 2-for-5 day with two runs and an RBI in her last home doubleheader. Emily McQuaid was 2-for-4 with a run scored while Caitlin Brown went 3-for-7 with a double and an RBI.
Lesovsky and Kirsten Willmon beat out infield singles in the first inning and were brought home by Charly Swanberg's sharp single down the left field line. CSUMB cut the lead in half in the second, as fielding errors by Nicole Spangler at first and Maria Sykes in right field handed the Otters a run.
The Otters put a gap between themselves and the Tritons with five consecutive one-out hits in the third inning, capitalizing on an RBI double by Nina Villanueva and RBI singles through the left side from Alyssa Rivera and Danielle Onken. Down 4-2 with the bases still loaded, UCSD starter Camille Gaito (20-8) did well to get out of the inning by drawing a force-out at home plate before fanning pinch-hitter Stephanie Pesqueira.
Brown's bloop-single in the bottom half of the frame brought-in Lesovsky to make it 4-3, but the Tritons could not find the equalizer.
CSUMB's Jamie Moon doubled to lead off the seventh and eventually scored on Jackie Serna's sacrifice fly to center. Reinhardt earned the complete-game victory, walking a batter while striking out four.
Gaito surrendered nine hits, four earned runs and struck-out three in her final regular-season home start. She tied the UCSD record with her 84th career complete game in the process.
Serna handed the Otters a 2-0 lead with a two-run home run to left field in the top of the first off Jennifer Manuel (4-4) in game two. Moon added an RBI double in the third and then scored the Otters' fourth run when Swanberg's throw to pick off Moon at third sailed into left field.
After Lesovsky's RBI single in the third made it 4-1, UCSD nudged with one in the bottom of the fourth. Brown led off with a double to right and was brought home via a two-bagger to right center by Mya Romero. With a runner sitting on third with one-down, Manuel lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to bring in Swanberg, but Romero was thrown out at third for the final out when attempting to advance.
UCSD would eventually tie it in the sixth. After Swanberg singled, she gave way for pinch runner Anne Wethe who was moved over on Annie Heskett's groundout to the right side. Romero struck-out looking, but Maria Sykes picked up Wethe with a perfectly placed single behind the Otter first baseman. Manuel, who had walked earlier in the inning, stood 60 feet away, but Kylie Linnane forced McQuaid to ground out to short to end the inning.
Brown gave UCSD a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh, singling to right field with two outs before taking second base on an error from the right fielder, Skyler Valdivia. However, Linnane got Swanberg to ground out to first to end the threat.
Moon walked to lead off the eighth and moved over to second on Villanueva's sacrifice bunt. Serna singled to put runners on first and third before Reinhardt hit a slow-roller to short to give Moon enough time to score.
Up 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth, CSUMB called on Reinhardt to close the game. Manuel drew a two-out infield single to second base, but Reinhardt fielded Sykes' subsequent ground ball before firing it over to first to end the game.
The last time the Tritons were swept in a four-game series was April 11-12, 2008 at Humboldt State. UCSD had never been swept at home.
The Tritons will face the Toros in the first round of the CCAA Tournament next Friday in Stockton.
"At this point in the season, you know what you have to do. You can't change anything physically, but you have got to go in mentally tough and work smarter. That is what our goal is going to be next week," said Gerckens.
Prior to Saturday's doubleheader, UCSD seniors Lesovsky, Gaito, Wethe and Tess Granath were honored for their years of service to the softball program.