DANBURY, Conn.—After one of the closest finishes in Little East Conference history forced #4 softball on the road, UMass Boston used a total-team effort, to earn a wild comeback victory over #3 Western Connecticut State University in the LEC Opening Round.
#4 UMass Boston 9, #3 Western Connecticut State University 8 (Nine Innings)
(UMass Boston 24-10)
(Western Connecticut State University 18-20)
HOW IT HAPPENED
After trailing 4-0 and being no-hit into the fifth and seeing their four-run lead disappear in the seventh, UMass Boston scored a single-run in the ninth inning to move into the Winner's Bracket.
The Beacons will take on the winner of #5 UMass Dartmouth on Thursday at 2 p.m. at Plymouth State University. UMass Dartmouth defeated #2 Eastern Connecticut State University 4-0. The Tournament has been moved up to start on Thursday, because of heavy rain in the forecast on Friday.
Senior captain Kaitlyn "KMO" Morse (Arlington, Mass.) was one of the biggest heroes on the day. The senior went 2-for-2 with a run scored, an RBI and three walks. In the ninth inning with Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) on second, Morse drove a single up the middle to score Prusmack to make it 9-8.
Prusmack also had a huge game offensively, with two hits, two runs scored and two RBI.
Sophomore Annie Thomas (Lunenburg, Mass.) was the hero in the circle. After Western Connecticut State tied the game in the eighth off starter Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.), Thomas allowed just two hits and two walks, in three scoreless innings to keep the game tied. Thomas struck out five batters, including the final batter in each of the final three innings with runners in scoring position.
Western Connecticut State designated player Sofia Palacios hit a grand slam to tie the game at 8-8 in the bottom of the seventh. She finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and six RBI.
It was all Colonials early on. After Morse was stranded on third in the top of the first, Western scored four two-out runs in the bottom half of the inning.
With two on and two outs, Palacios singled to right center to score Charline Plascyznski and Kayla Nowak. Natalia Hart followed with a 2-run homer to make it 4-0.
That looked like more than enough for freshman left-handed pitcher Sara Tenke. Through the first four innings, Tenke allowed just two walks to the 14 batters she faced and also picked up three strikeouts. Tenke also had shut the Beacons down on Saturday, as she allowed no earned runs in nine innings of work.
That all changed with a huge top of the fifth inning. UMass Boston had the first eight batters reach on seven hits and a walk.
Morse followed with a walk to reload the bases for the Beacons' top two power hitters. Sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) made the Colonials pay with her second collegiate grand slam, a huge blast to left-center, that made it 7-4. Raczkowski followed with her program record 13th homer, this one to right-center, to give the Beacons an 8-4 lead.
The Beacons put two more runners on in scoring position against reliever Angelina Miller, but she was able to get a line out to left to keep it at 8-4.
After a quiet sixth inning, Western Connecticut State stormed back to tie it thanks to a Palacios' grand slam. The first two batters in the bottom of the seventh singled and then Plascynzski walked to load the bases. That set up Palacios' big fly that barely cleared the fence down the right-field line.
After Thomas came on, Hart singled to put the game-winning run on first. Hart moved to second on a sac bunt and moved 40-feet away from home on a wild pitch. Thomas bore down from there, as the sophomore struck out Michaela Damore and Alexandra LeFemina to push the game to extras.
Both teams had chances to score in the eighth. The Arlington pair of Morse and Vento posted back-to-back singles, but Tenke got the next two batters. After a Pawlina walk loaded the bases, Western retired the final batter to keep the game at 8-8.
Western put two runners on with one out, but Thomas induced a fly out to Plascynski, the home team's best hitter, and struck out Palacios to extend the game to the ninth.
Mitsiaris opened the ninth inning with a double and moved to third on a sac bunt. The Beacons tried a squeeze play, but Mitsiaris was thrown out at the plate, as Prusmack wisely took second. With two down and Prumack on second, Morse grounded one through the middle to easily score the speedy Prusmack.
Things wouldn't be easy in the bottom of the ninth. Hart led off with a double, but Thomas mowed down the next three batters with a strikeout, a pop-up back to the circle and a strikeout.
BY THE NUMBERS
- With the win, UMass Boston tied the 2011 team for the most wins in program history at 24. The 2011 team finished 24-15 and won one of their three games in the LEC Tournament.
- Tuesday's win marked the Beacons' first-ever win in their first game of the LEC Tournament. The Beacons won one game in 2011 and three games last year, but lost their first game both times.
- Every hitter in the Beacons' lineup recorded at least one hit, with the team recording 14 total hits. Pawlina led the team with three hits, while Prusmack, Morse, Vento and Mitsiaris each had two hits.
- The two teams combined for 17 runs, 27 hits, and four home runs.
- UMass Boston improves to 3-1 this year in extra-innings and 1-1 in nine-inning games.
- Vento tied the program record for RBI in a single-season with her grand slam (36). Amanda Perry ('12) had 36 RBI as a freshman in 2012.
- Morse is tied for third in program history with her 34 runs scored in a single-season. She tied alum and former neighbor Katherine Wall ('08) for third, and needs six more to tie assistant coach Sue Kililea ('13) for the single-season record (40).
UMass Boston will play at least one, if not two games, on Thursday at Plymouth State University. The Beacons will play at 2 p.m. and depending on the results of the other games, could also play at 6 p.m.