Bucs blast seven home runs, split day two of Buccaneer Challenge
Bucs blast seven home runs, split day two of Buccaneer Challenge
Sunday, March 13, 2011

Twenty-two home runs were hit in five tournament games on Saturday

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 12, 2011) - With the winds howling out to left-center at over 20 miles per hour, Betty Basler Field was acting as a launching pad for hitters on both teams Saturday afternoon.

The Bucs, who belted seven home runs (two grand slams) on the day, came away with a split on day two of the Buccaneer Challenge. Despite freshman Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) registering a three-run home run and senior Katie Henderson (Jackson, Tenn.) blasting a grand slam against Pittsburgh, the Bucs were still unable to post an upset over the BIG EAST contender as the Panthers pounded out 20 hits en route to holding on for a 14-8 victory in game one. However, the long-ball continued to remain in ETSU's arsenal as the Blue and Gold lit up St. Bonaventure's pitching staff for five round-trippers - including Amy Campbell's (Chattanooga, Tenn.) second grand slam in a two-week span - and the Bucs earned the split by defeating the Bonnies, 10-4, in the nightcap.

Overall, seven of the Bucs' 19 hits left the yard, while Henderson led ETSU with a .625 batting average on Saturday. The Jackson, Tenn. native went 5-for-8 with two home runs, three runs scored and six RBI, and Campbell finished 3-of-6 with the slam and five RBI on the day.

With the split, ETSU improved to 3-1 on its home turf and stand 7-13 on the season.

St. Bonaventure Recap

Nearly half of ETSU's hits left the yard as five different Buccaneer players recorded home runs and the Blue and Gold outlasted St. Bonaventure, 10-7, in a slugfest Saturday evening at Betty Basler Field.

Seven of the Bucs' nine starters posted a hit, while sophomore Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) was one of the five ETSU players to hit a home run - marking her first collegiate round-tripper. In total, the game saw two ties and eight home runs.

Hartnett was the first player to leave the stadium as her solo shot in the second gave the Bucs an early 1-0 lead after the first inning.

St. Bonaventure (1-6) used the long-ball to tie the game at one when Lindsay Stowell led off the third with a home run to left-center.

Just as Hartnett and Stowell got it done, Henderson followed suit in the third when her two-run, two-out blast snapped the tie and put ETSU back ahead, 3-1.

From there, St. Bonaventure's Ashley Snider put the Bonnies within a run with her solo homer to lead off the top of the fourth.

Betty Basler Field continued acting as a launching pad when Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) touched them all to lead off the fourth - putting ETSU up 4-2.

With the wind swirling out to left-center no lead was safe, but ironically, the Bonnies tied the game at four without having a ball leave the park in the fifth. St. Bonaventure recorded back-to-back soft singles to right, while Jessenia Andujar's one-out RBI double cut the Bonnies lead to one. Then, Snider's sac-fly RBI to center tied things at four on the next at-bat; however, Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) escaped without giving up more damage by freezing Ashley Nowak on a 3-2 count to end the inning.

The see-saw game continued in the fifth, but a five-run inning put the Blue and Gold up for good, 9-4. Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) - who reached base four times in seven at-bats on Saturday - led off the inning with an infield single and Hartnett reached after the ball just nicked the front of her jersey. After Henderson loaded the bases with a single to right, Baird brought in the first run of the frame when her bloop single to left scored Fox. Then, after Lower hit into a fielder's choice, Campbell cleared the bases with her second grand slam of the year - giving the Bucs a five-run lead.

Sophomore Arielle Garner (Buchanan, Ga.) made her first hit of the season a memorable one as she stepped up in a pinch hit role and jacked the Bucs' fifth and final dinger of the night to make it a 10-4 contest after six innings of play.

The Bonnies tried to mount a rally as they scored three times in the seventh and chased Morris from the circle; however, Jessica Duncan (Ooltewah, Tenn.) entered the game to record a one-out save lifting the Bucs to the win. Morris earned the win (3-3) after allowing seven runs on 13 hits in 6.2 innings of work. Meanwhile, Diana Phalon saw her record dip to 1-2 on the year after surrendering eight runs on nine hits in four innings.

Pittsburgh Recap

Katie Henderson belted a grand slam and Jackie Baird jacked a three-run homer, but it wasn't enough offense to lift the Bucs past Pittsburgh as the Panthers pounded out 20 hits en route to capturing a wild 14-8 victory over ETSU.

Despite tying the game with Baird's blast in the third inning and trailing by a run after the fifth, the Bucs couldn't muster up enough offense to post a win over the BIG EAST foe Panthers. A nine-run seventh inning - capped by four errors - doomed any chances of the come-from-behind victory for the Blue and Gold.

Henderson posted three hits in four at-bats, while Nicole Fox went 2-for-4 with a run scored and stolen base.

After the Blue and Gold left two runners stranded in the bottom of the first, Pittsburgh scored the first run of the game in the top half of the second on a RBI single to center by Karlyn Jones. Fox tried to get Niki Cognigni out at the plate with a throw from center, but Henderson's awareness paid off as she gunned Jones down at second for the final out of the inning.

However, Pittsburgh's offense carried over to the third inning as the Panthers plated two runs on three hits and extended their lead to 3-0.

The Panthers used speed to generate their two runs in the third as Reba Tutt reached on a fielder's choice and quickly advanced to third by swiping two bags. Then, after Ashley Amistade reached on an infield single, she stole second and both runners scored on Holly Stevens' one-out double down the line in left - giving Pittsburgh a three-run advantage.

Just as Pittsburgh's offense enjoyed the top half the third, ETSU's squad rallied in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at three courtesy of Baird's two-out home run to center. Earlier in the inning, Fox reached base on an infield single to third - and after she turned on the speed to steal second - Tara Hartnett reached on a costly throwing error by Kelly Hmiel at third. Once again, coach Irwin got aggressive on the base paths as Hartnett stole second, but with runners on second and third, Cory Berliner struck Henderson out swinging for the second out. Fortunately, the Blue and Gold capitalized on the extra-out as Baird flexed her muscles on a two-strike pitch and sent a laser over the fence in left to make it 3-3 ballgame. 

Duncan and the Bucs worked out of a minor jam in the fourth as Kristen Cheesebrew posted a two-out triple to left-center, but the senior righty forced Tutt to hit into an inning-ending grounder to third.

However, Stevens continued to be a thorn in Duncan's side, as she drove in her third run of the game by blasting a solo shot over the fence in center - putting Pittsburgh back up 4-3.

The Panthers added to their lead in the sixth as Keli Gaynor took full use of the wind gusts blowing out to left when her leadoff home run gave Pittsburgh a two-run cushion, 5-3.

ETSU got one of the runs back in the bottom of the inning on Amy Campbell's two-out single to left, but the upset-minded Bucs were faced with a bumpy seventh inning on defense and the Panthers made the Blue and Gold pay for four errors in the frame. Pittsburgh scored nine runs on 11 hits in the inning to break the game open, 14-4. The Bucs fought until the end as Henderson's grand slam in the bottom of the inning cut the deficit to six, but Pittsburgh ended up coming away with the win.

Duncan suffered the loss (3-6) after allowing eight runs on 12 hits while striking out six. Even though the Bucs tagged Berliner for eight runs on eight hits, the right-hander still picked up the win and moved her mark to 2-2 on the year.

In the five tournament games on Saturday, a total of 22 home runs were hit.

The Bucs close out the third and final day of the Buccaneer Challenge on Sunday afternoon. ETSU will face Pittsburgh at 12:15 p.m. and North Carolina A&T at 2:30 p.m.

Click here a full recap of day one scores.

For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.