Bucs rally from six down to take lead in game two, lose in eight
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 23, 2013) – The ETSU softball team opened a three-game series against Florida Gulf Coast with a doubleheader on Saturday at Betty Basler Field, but were defeated by scores of 5-0 and 10-9 in eight innings.
The game-two loss was tough to swallow. Trailing by six runs, 8-2, entering the bottom of the fifth, ETSU (8-18, 0-8 A-Sun) scraped out a run to cut the deficit to five. A huge six-run rally ensued in the sixth, capped off with a two-run home run by Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) to put the Buccaneers ahead, 9-8. FGCU (24-9, 5-0 A-Sun) tied it with one out in the seventh off a solo shot from Brittney Garabedian and scored the eventual game-winning run with two outs in the eighth.
“It was a very frustrating day,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “The second game was a hard one to take. To be two outs away in the seventh and not be able to hold on is frustrating.
“We just can’t seem to put the total package together. We played six good innings on defense in game one and were holding [FGCU] until the couple big balls in the seventh. We hit the ball well eventually in the second game and scored nine, but we couldn’t pull it out.”
Shelby Morgan (12-5) tossed a shutout in the opener, allowing five ETSU hits and striking out two for the win. She was credited with the win in game two as well after relieving starter Amanda Josie and allowing four runs in 2.2 innings pitched.
Junior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) threw her fifth consecutive complete game in game one, but did not get any run support and fell to 3-9. Wolff held FGCU to just a run through six innings, but a four-run seventh charged her with four earned runs on seven hits, walking six and striking out five. Newcomer Elliana Cabrera (Hayden, Ariz.) started game two and had a rough outing, allowing seven earned runs in 3.2 innings. Freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) came on in relief and went the rest of the way, but surrendered the game-tying home run in the seventh and the game-winning run in the eighth. Harrell falls to 4-7.
Kelsey Carpenter was responsible for the majority of FGCU’s damage at the plate. The Eagle outfielder hit a three-run homer in each game, finishing the day 5-for-8 with four runs and seven RBIs. Tori Williams also had a big day, going 5-for-7 from the leadoff spot with four runs, an RBI and a stolen base.
All of ETSU’s offense came in game two, highlighted by senior Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) who went 4-for-4 in the game with three doubles, two runs and an RBI. Hensley’s three doubles tie for the most in a single game in ETSU history. Sheryl Clark is the other to accomplish the feat against NC A&T on April 9, 2002.
Wolff completed the day 3-for-8 with a run and two driven in and redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) was 4-for-8. Baird was 2-for-5 in game two after not getting a hit in three at-bats in game one, driving in three runs, including two on her team-leading fourth homer of the year.
The Buccaneers close out the series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for noon from Betty Basler Field.
Game 1 Recap – FGCU 5, ETSU 0
Morgan threw a five-hit shutout and the Eagles broke the game open with four runs in the seventh inning to defeat ETSU, 5-0, in game one of the Saturday doubleheader. Wolff kept ETSU in the game through six and went the distance, but the Buccaneers could not score to drop their 11th straight conference game.
ETSU had a chance to take an early lead. Hartnett was hit by a pitch to leadoff the first and Wolff later singled to put two on with one out. Baird hit into a fielder’s choice and Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) went down looking on a close third-strike call to end the threat.
A scoreless game went into the fifth inning before Tori Williams led off with a single. Two pitches later, Kelsey Carpenter doubled to the gap in right-center, scoring Williams and giving the Eagles a lead they never relinquished.
The Bucs were close to tying it in the sixth. Fox and Wolff each singled with two outs to bring up Baird. The junior third baseman made good contact, but Williams ran down the ball in right-center to keep the Eagles out in front.
An error helped FGCU rally for four insurance runs in the last. Makensie McAvoy hit a hard grounder to short which Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) couldn’t handle and Williams worked a walk to put the first two on. Carpenter capitalized, belting a three-run shot to left and all but sealing the win. Mariah Fernandez added a solo homer later in the inning to make the ETSU deficit five.
Lower singled in the bottom half, but five runs were too much to make up and the Eagles took the opener.
Game 2 Recap – FGCU 10, ETSU 9 (8 Innings)
Heartbreaking can only describe game two.
The Bucs went down, 5-0, after the first two innings and trailed by as many as six before rallying for six runs in the sixth inning to take their first lead of the day. Two outs from victory, Garabedian launched the game-tying homer to center and the Eagles pushed another across in the eighth to escape with a doubleheader sweep.
Cabrera made just her second start of the year and was hit up for two in the first. Carpenter tripled and Chelsea Zgrabik singled her in to put FGCU on top immediately. Two batters later, Jessica Barnes singled to left to bring home the Eagles second run of the inning.
Three more came across in the second. Cabrera got the first two out before Regan Knapik doubled and Williams singled to put runners on the corners. Carpenter came to the plate and blasted her second three-run homer of the day, hitting the scoreboard in right-center and giving FGCU a five-run lead.
ETSU got two back in the third. Hensley led off with her first of three doubles in the ball game and with two outs Wolff singled her home. A Baird double put two in scoring position and Emily Lanier dropped the third out at first base to score Wolff and get ETSU within three.
Those two runs were quickly given back. Again, Cabrera got the first two outs before getting into trouble, walking both Williams and Carpenter before surrendering an RBI single to Zgrabik. Cabrera walked her third of the inning to load the bases and a fourth walk brought in Carpenter to put the Eagles right back on top by five.
Harrell entered and struck out Lanier looking to limit the damage.
FGCU took its largest lead in the fifth. Two-out runs bit the Bucs again as Harrell set the first two down before Knapik singled, stole second and was doubled in by Williams.
Baird helped the Bucs get that run back in the bottom half. Fox tripled to lead off and Baird grounded to short for the RBI while getting ETSU back within five.
A huge rally ensued in the sixth. Lower was hit by a pitch and Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) singled with one out, ending Amanda Josie’s day and bringing in the game-one starter, Morgan. It didn’t slow down the Bucs as Hensley hit her third double of the game to score Lower and Hartnett doubled to left-center on the very next pitch to pull the gap to only two.
ETSU kept it going. Fox singled for the Bucs’ fourth consecutive hit and beat a fielder’s choice to second base off the bat of Wolff, scoring Hartnett and bringing up Baird. If not for Fox getting caught stealing, Baird’s homer would have scored three. Still, the junior blasted a go-ahead homer off the scoreboard in right-center and all of a sudden ETSU had taken its first lead of the day.
Garabedian saved FGCU’s day in the seventh with a no-doubter to dead center. A dropped foul ball cost ETSU in the eighth, extending Fernandez’s at-bat with two outs and runners on second and third. Harrell’s next pitch was wild, getting away from Hensley and scoring the eventual winning run.
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