RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Junior third baseman Jillian Andersen's sixth-inning, bases-loaded single stood as the decisive blow and starting sophomore lefthander Chloe Wurst tossed her sixth complete-game shutout of 2013 as the Cal Poly softball program opened a Saturday afternoon doubleheader versus UC Riverside with a 2-0 triumph at Amy S. Harrison Field. Powered by a four-run second inning, however, UC Riverside returned during the second game to whitewash Cal Poly, 8-0, in five innings.
During Saturday's opening contest, Cal Poly (19-30-1, 8-12) stranded the bases loaded in the second, left two in scoring position to close the third and stranded eight total Mustangs through the opening five innings before finding the decisive runs in the top of the sixth. After senior center fielder Whitley Gerhart and freshman first baseman Breana West strung together successive one-out singles, Cal Poly junior right fielder Cami Brown grounded a ball in front of UC Riverside starting righthander Ashley Ercolano (6-10). Ercolano fielded the ball and threw to force Gerhart out at third, but UC Riverside's Brittanie Akey failed to get her foot down on the bag in time. With the bases full, Andersen (right) lined a single into left field to plate Gerhart for a 1-0 lead.
UC Riverside's best chance to snatch the opening run against Wurst (11-14-1) occurred during the bottom of the fourth, as a sacrifice fly to the left field warning track from pinch hitter Kaylie Atkinson advanced two Highlander baserunners into scoring position. Wurst, however, forced a second fly out from shortstop Natalie Sanchez to conclude the threat.
Into the sixth, Wurst kept her shutout in play by striking out Sanchez with two down and Highlanders at the corner bases.
UC Riverside (18-30, 2-15) enjoyed one final attempt to extend the opening game after placing two Highlanders in scoring position with one down during the seventh. Wurst, however, claimed her first shutout in seven starts by inducing a grounder to Mustang junior shortstop Kim Westlund, who threw out second baseman Nicolette Lujan at home. With two down, Ercolano flew out to end Saturday's opener.
Andersen, Westlund and Gerhart each finished with two hits for Cal Poly during game No. 1.
During Saturday's second contest, Cal Poly stranded two basesrunners in scoring position to close the the top of the second and UC Riverside returned during the bottom half of the inning to take a commanding lead. After being struck by Mustang starting sophomore righthander Jordan Yates (5-13), leadoff Highlander Dionne Anderson stole second before scoring through an Ercolano single to left center. Atkinson, pinch hitting once again, followed with a run-scoring single before center fielder Kayla White swatted a two-run homer to provide the hosts a 4-0 advantage.
Cal Poly's best chance to get back into the game occurred in the fourth, as junior left fielder Lauren Moreno and sophomore designated player Emily Ceccacci reached in successive at-bats to lead off the inning before both advancing into scoring position with two outs. Brown, however, flew out to discontinue Cal Poly's challenge.
After leaving two runners in scoring position to close the third, UC Riverside upped its lead to 6-0 in the fourth after Anderson singled through the left side of the infield with two outs to plate left fielder Ariel Shore and White. The Highlanders completed their run-rule victory in the fifth. After loading the bases with no outs, White lined a single off of Andersen's glove at third to bring home pinch runner Meagan Esteban and Akey.
Ceccacci finished with two hits for Cal Poly, which lost at UC Riverside for just the second time during the previous 14 road matchups versus the Highlanders.
The Mustangs and Highlanders conclude their three-game series on Sunday, April 28 with a 12 noon single game.