Nine unearned runs, 21 LOB doom Bucs
MACON, Ga. (March 9, 2013) – Nine unearned runs burned the ETSU softball team in its Atlantic Sun-opening doubleheader Saturday, allowing Mercer to run away with game one, 7-1, and rally for five runs in the fourth inning of game two to win, 5-3, at Sikes Field.
Mercer’s (13-12, 2-0 A-Sun) Ashton Holt had the two big blows. In game one, she broke open a close game in the sixth with a two-RBI double to put the Bears up by the eventual final. The more hurtful dagger came in the fourth inning of game two as Holt blasted a grand slam over the right-field wall, putting the Bears right back ahead of ETSU (7-9, 0-2 A-Sun) after it had scored three in the top half. Holt ended the day 3-for-5 with seven RBIs, driving in seven unearned runs.
ETSU had plenty of chances to score in the form of 17 hits and six Mercer (13-12, 2-0 A-Sun) errors – five in game two – but left a total of 21 runners on base. Four of game one’s first seven innings saw the Buccaneers leave two stranded, and the trend continued in game two where ETSU left two or more runners on base four different times.
The final inning was the day in a nutshell. The Bucs put the first two runners on base via two Mercer errors. Later, with the tying run on second, one out and the bases loaded, Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) lined out to third before senior catcher Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) grounded out to leave the bases full of Bucs and give Mercer the doubleheader sweep.
Freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) started game one, lasting into the fifth and exiting with ETSU down by just two, 3-1. Mercer added the last four off two ETSU errors in the sixth. Game-two starter Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) went 5.0-plus innings, pitching into and out of jams the whole way. Wolff surrendered the grand slam in the fourth, but it came with two outs and a leadoff error proving costly.
Redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) had a good day at the plate, going 4-for-8 with a run and a RBI. Wolff was 3-for-7 offensively and senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) had a 2-for-7 day with a double and two RBIs.
ETSU will look to scrape a game out of the series on Sunday. First pitch for the series finale is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Game 1 Recap - Mercer 7, ETSU 1
Two ETSU errors helped to bring in four Mercer runs and the Buccaneers dropped their Atlantic Sun opener at Sikes Field, 7-1. The majority of the damage came in the sixth, where the Bears scored four runs to extend their lead to six and extinguish any hope for a seventh-inning ETSU comeback.
ETSU starter Sam Harrell (4-4) pitched 4.1 innings, surrendering seven hits and three earned runs before being relieved by Elliana Cabrera (Hayden, Ariz.) in the fifth. Cabrera didn’t give up an earned run the rest of the way, but a ground ball hit to second in the sixth escaped the grasp of Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.), allowing A-Sun Preseason All-Conference outfielder McKenzie Woody to reach base and begin the three-run inning.
Mercer pitcher Kerri Nidiffer (7-7) went the whole way, allowing seven hits, one earned run and two walks while striking out four.
The day had a bright outlook at the start. Lower and Fox each reached base to begin the first game and Fox later came around to score and put the Bucs up. Junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) drove in the run on a two-out, 1-1 single for her 11th RBI of the year.
It was ETSU’s only run of the game and Mercer took the lead for good in the third. After holding the Bears to just one hit through the first two innings, Harrell allowed a leadoff single to Marissa Botz and a bunt single to Woody.
Kaytlin Haney stepped up with the two on and drove in the first run. A bunted ball up the middle found its way through a converging ETSU defense. With Carpenter heading over to cover first on contact, the ball dribbled up an empty infield before finally being picked up by Fox who ran in from center. It was more than enough time for Botz to score from second and for Woody to go first-to-third.
Two batters later, Krista Kennedy grounded out to short with the bases loaded to bring home Woody and give put Mercer ahead.
The Bears padded the lead in the fifth. Catcher Sarah Santana led the inning off with a double, was sacrificed to third and then driven in on a single from Holt.
The game opened up in the sixth. Woody reached on the Carpenter error that brought home Randi Rea and later scored on what should have been the final out of the inning. Two batters later, Holt doubled with the bases full of Bears to extend the lead to the 7-1 final.
Game 2 Recap - Mercer 5, ETSU 3
A five-run fourth inning was all Mercer needed to earn the doubleheader sweep, defeating ETSU, 5-3. The Buccaneers took a 3-0 lead in the top half of the fourth and seemed on track to salvage a split of the day, but a costly error allowed all five MU runs to come across.
Mercer committed five errors in the game, but it only cost them three runs. One of ETSU’s pair of errors was exploited by Holt, who blasted a grand slam over the head off Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) and just over the wall in right with two outs.
ETSU starter Katie Wollf (2-4) did not surrender an earned run and pitched into the sixth inning, but it could not prevent her from taking the loss. For the game, Wolff allowed eight hits, four walks and struck out one. Meanwhile, Mercer starter Julia Rice (6-4) did as Nidiffer in the first game and went the distance. Rice did allow 10 ETSU hits, but the Buccaneers left 11 on base when it was said and done to begin conference play 0-2.
The missed opportunities began from the start. A pair of two-out singles was stranded in the first while a Mercer error and a Hensley single could not change the scoreboard in the second.
The Buccaneers did jump on a Mercer error in the fourth and scored three. Hensley reached on the MU miscue to load the bases. Two batters later, Lower doubled to left center and drove in the first two runs of the game. Fox followed, singling down the left-field line to score Jenine Duncan (Jonesborough, Tenn.) and put ETSU ahead by three.
It was all taken away in the fourth when Holt barely cleared the wall and the glove of Everett in right for the grand slam.
The missed opportunities all came full circle in the seventh. Mercer committed two errors to begin the inning and Everett singled two batters later to load the bases.The Bucs were in prime position for a seventh-inning rally to tie or take the lead and get right back in it. Due up next was the.361-hitting Hartnett. It was all about to be all right.
ETSU fans waiting Buccaneer news, score updates, in-game promotions and much more sent to their mobile device can do so by signing up for “Buc Updates.” Click here to sign up today!
For more information on ETSU Buccaneer softball, please visit www.ETSUBucs.com.