Horner delivers walk-off
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Feb. 24, 2013) – For the second time this season, the ETSU softball team rallied for five runs in its last turn at-bat, defeating Siena College in dramatic fashion, 5-4, Sunday afternoon at Betty Basler Field to earn a three-game series sweep of the Saints.
Sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) had the big hit. With the bases loaded and ETSU (6-6) down to its last out, trailing 4-3, Horner drove a single into centerfield which scored Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) from third and Lily Robins (Collierville, Tenn.) from second to complete the five-run rally for the walk-off win.
“When Tara got a walk I knew it was now or never,” said Horner, who completes the weekend 7-for-10 at the plate with three runs and six RBIs. “I just knew I had to make contact and get the ball to land anywhere because we had speed on the bases.
“When I hit it, I was praying to God that it would get over the pitcher. I turned around when I got to first base, looked at [Coach Wilkinson] and she was excited like no other.”
The ETSU rally began as soon as the inning started, as Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) launched a leadoff home run down the left field line to get the Bucs energized. Following a hard line out to second off the bat of Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.), senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.), sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) and sophomore Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) all singled to load the bases and bring the winning run to the plate.
Siena (0-3) got Wolff to hit into a fielder’s choice to get the force out at home and get within an out of victory, up by three runs, but reigning A-Sun Player of the Week Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) singled to make it a 4-3 game and two batters later Horner sent the Bucs walking off.
“This team continues to amaze me with its never-say-die attitude,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “In their minds, they truly believe they are never out of a ball game. It’s truly amazing and words cannot describe how proud I am.”
Junior transfer Elliana Cabrera (Hayden, Ariz.) came on in relief of starter Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) with one out in the first, and did not allow an earned run through 6.2 innings, surrendering just two hits and no walks to earn the win (1-1).
“Elliana did a great job,” Irwin added. “She’s had a few tough outings leading up to this, but she only allowed two hits the rest of the way. She came in and kept us in the ball game.”
Cabrera inherited two runs, entering with runners on second and third and Siena having already put two across in the inning. A wild pitch scored Alyssa Lancaster from third and a sacrifice fly put the Saints up four from the start.
Siena’s starting pitcher, Jessika-Jo Sandrini, was solid through the large majority of the game. Through six innings, Sandrini allowed just two hits and kept ETSU off the scoreboard. The problems arose in the seventh, beginning with Hensley’s first homer of the season as Sandrini would only ever get two batters out before Horner gave the Bucs its first and only lead of the day.
The victory pulls the Bucs to .500 12 games into the season, making it the first time since 2010 ETSU has been .500 or better through as many games. Meanwhile, the come-from-behind victory is ETSU’s third of the year. The Buccaneers came back to score five runs in the eighth inning to walk-off against James Madison and used a seventh-inning, two-run home run from Baird to defeat the College of Charleston, both coming at the CofC Classic.
The comeback kids are back in action Thursday, hosting Liberty for a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m.
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