Five runs in eighth beats JMU, Baird’s homer saves game two vs. CofC
MT PLEASANT, S.C. (Feb. 16, 2013) – Most teams don’t come back from giving up four runs in the top half of an extra inning and most teams don’t come back from giving up a five-run lead late in a game.
Saturday, in day two of the College of Charleston Classic at Patriots Point, the ETSU softball team accomplished both feats.
Down four runs heading into the bottom of the eighth against James Madison (2-1), the Buccaneers (3-5) believed and rallied for five runs, capped off by a bases-loaded, walk-off, two-out double from senior Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.), for a, 5-4, victory. Later on that afternoon against the College of Charleston (0-2), the Buccaneers surrendered six runs in the bottom of the sixth to go down, 9-8, only to witness Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) save the day with a two-run, line-drive home run to left for the, 10-9, final.
“The amount of fight this team distributed, to come back from being down twice, was just amazing,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “I’m so proud of the way they fought. They were never out of either of those ball games. Even when we gave up the lead or gave up a large chunk of runs, they never felt that they were out of the game. This team believed they could come back in those situations and it was just tremendous to watch.
“Obviously our backs were against the wall in the James Madison game after they scored four in the top, but to come back and put five on the board was just awesome. These girls worked really hard and I felt they deserved that win.
“In the Charleston game, we were riding high from scoring four runs early. To give up the lead with six runs in the sixth and then to go back up in the seventh and hold on was just a great ride. These girls persevered and they were rewarded.”
Game 1 – ETSU 5, James Madison 4 (8 Innings)
ETSU freshman pitcher Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) was at it again Saturday morning in the opening game of day two at the College of Charleston Classic, cruising through seven innings and allowing no JMU runs to cross the plate. The only problem was the game lasted eight innings and the Dukes put up four runs in the extra frame to seemingly lock up a win.
The Bucs had other ideas. With the help of five hits in the bottom half of the eighth, ETSU finally came to life offensively and just in time to defeat James Madison, 5-4. Hartnett was the hero, doubling with two outs and the bases loaded to bring home the winning run in incredible fashion.
“Our energy was really good going up to bat even though we had just given up the four runs,” said Hartnett, who wound up 3-for-7 with three runs and two RBIs on the day. “Everybody knew that we could do it.
“When Sam walked I knew I needed to get it done because we had come too far to not win that game.”
Senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) was walked to place pinch runners Jennine Duncan (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) on third and second base, respectively. Hartnett’s double went to left center, easily bringing home both freshman speedsters.
It was all zeros until the crazy eighth. Harrell and JMU pitcher Sarah Mooney were rolling through the opposing lineups in an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Through seven innings, Mooney had allowed just four hits and struck out five, while Harrell had faced just 26 batters allowing only five to get on.
JMU began the extras by sacrificing the runner placed at second over to third. Morgan Heath then hit a roller back to Harrell, who tried to throw out Klumpp heading for home. Harrell’s throw went to the backstop, advancing Heath to second.
Just when it looked like Harrell would only surrender the one run by getting the next batter to line out, a two-out single followed by a Mooney homer to left brought three more across to give the Dukes what they surely thought was an insurmountable lead.
The Bucs stayed positive and put together four consecutive one-out hits to pull the game to 4-3. Sophomore Haley Thompson (Nicholson, Ga.) went down swinging before Lower was walked and Hartnett sent the Bucs walking off with an unbelievable win.
Game 2 – ETSU 10, College of Charleston 9
As if game one wasn’t enough, ETSU found a way to create even more drama in a, 10-9, win against the College of Charleston. Up, 8-3, in the sixth, the Bucs surrendered six runs and the lead to the home Cougars with only the top of the seventh left to get it back.
In came Baird, who put the Buccaneers right back on top with a two-run shot to left that proved to be the game-winner.
“Katie [Wolff] looked at me before we got up to bat and said, ‘I’m getting on so you better knock me in,’ and I said all right. I was really just thinking of how to move her over.
“I was looking for something inside, got it and went with the pitch to left. Honestly, I didn’t think it was going out. It was probably only two feet over the fence.”
Baird’s shot was on a rope to left and barely made it out for her first long ball of the year. The junior ended the game 2-for-3 with three runs and the two RBIs. Her team-leading batting average stands at .565 through the first eight contests.
The game was wild from the start, as ETSU put up four runs in the top half of the first with the help of three Cougar errors. The first came on the game’s very first at-bat as Lower reached on a dropped fly ball to left. She later came across on a passed ball. Baird scored as a direct result of a throwing error and Hartnett later came across via another bad throw.
The lead extended to 5-0 in the third. Again, the run was unearned due to CofC’s fourth error in the game. Sophomore Casey Horner (Whiteburg, Tenn.) doubled to right field, scoring Hartnett who reached on the miscue the at-bat prior.
The Cougars got on the board in the bottom half. Two doubles in three at-bats put runners on second and third, and a third double brought home the first two runs for the host team.
The Bucs repadded the lead in the fifth. Sophomore Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) – 3-for-7 on the day with three runs scored – doubled to right to begin the frame and was driven in a batter later on an RBI single by starting pitcher Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas). A Baird double moved Wolff to third and Horner delivered a two-RBI double to put ETSU up by five.
That lead was surrendered in the sixth. Junior Elliana Cabrera (Hayden, Ariz.) came in to relieve Wolff to start the inning, but made just two outs before being replaced and charged with all six runs. CofC did all of its damage with two outs, beginning with a single from Ashton Jarrett that scored two. Cabrera walked the next two to force in one more, and Kelsey Hodgson leveled the score on a bases-clearing double to left center.
Wolff came back in and allowed a single that was charged to Cabrera and gave the Cougars the lead that was only taken away by Baird’s blast.
The ETSU softball team wraps up the College of Charleston Classic on Sunday with a single game versus Akron at noon.
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