RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Sophomore righthander Rebecca Patton struck out five UC Riverside hitters and the Cal Poly softball team erased a two-run deficit by scoring three times during the top of the seventh inning to slide past the Highlanders on Sunday afternoon at Amy S. Harrison Field, 5-4.
After junior center fielder Nora Sobczak opened Cal Poly's half of the seventh with a base hit, junior right fielder Nicole Lund followed with a one-out single. UC Riverside starting righthander Casey Suda (1-6) then intentionally walked Mustang senior designated player Anna Cahn for the second time on Sunday to set the stage for senior catcher Stephanie Correia, who drew a five-pitch walk off of righthanded reliever Jordyn McDonald.
McDonald responded by striking out Mustang freshman left fielder Jillian Andersen. With two outs, however, McDonald struck Patton on a 1-2 count to force home Lund and tie the game, 4-4. Cal Poly sophomore third baseman Shea Williams then provided the Mustangs the decisive margin by drawing a full-count walk to bring home freshman pinch runner Ashley Romano.
Perfect through the opening three and one-third innings, Patton (4-12) failed to walk a UC Riverside hitter. Cal Poly (6-23, 2-1), meanwhile, posted its seventh-successive road series victory against Big West opposition after splitting a Saturday doubleheader versus the Highlanders (8-18, 1-2). Cal Poly, which has won 17 of its last 20 matchups versus UC Riverside, is 18-5 on the road against Big West opposition since 2009.
Patton (above) retired the initial 10 Highlanders she faced before yielding a triple against UC Riverside right fielder Ariel Shore. Patton resumed action by striking out shortstop Kameryn Hebenton, but a bunt attempt by third baseman Brittany Keeney brought home Shore after a Williams throw pulled freshman first baseman Mariah Cochiolo off the bag.
The ensuing Highlander hitter, second baseman Taylor Thomas, then singled into short center field and the Mustang miscues continued with Sobczak sailing a late throw over the head of Williams. The errant launch allowed Keeney to score and hand the hosts a 2-0 advantage.
Cal Poly responded during the top half of the fifth as Cochiolo and Sobczak slapped successive one-out singles. After freshman shortstop Kim Westlund lined out, both Cochiolo and Sobczak moved into scoring position following a passed ball by UC Riverside catcher Dawn Brodersen before Lund ripped a two-run single into center field to deadlock the scoreline.
UC Riverside, however, required just another inning to reaffirm its lead. Shore reached to lead off the sixth after Cochiolo mishandled a potential out at first base. After a sacrifice bunt moved Shore to second, Keeney unfurled a run-scoring hit up the middle. First baseman Jessica Vasser later scored Keeney with a base hit to provide the Highlanders a 4-2 lead.
The Mustangs return home to Bob Janssen Field to open a three-game series versus UC Santa Barbara with a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday, April 9.