Game Two Comeback Keeps Softball's Playoff Hopes Alive

Game Two Comeback Keeps Softball's Playoff Hopes Alive

KEENE, N.H.—Junior Roxanne Vento's (Arlington, Mass.) go-ahead, grand slam in the sixth inning of game two, lifted UMass Boston to a vital Little East Conference split Tuesday afternoon at the Owl Athletic Complex.

THE BASICS

Keene State 1, UMass Boston 0

UMass Boston 8, Keene State 6

(UMass Boston 12-22, Little East 4-8)

(Keene State 9-9, Little East 5-7)

HOW IT HAPPENED

After dropping the opener and seeing their early 3-0 lead disappear, UMass Boston struck for five runs in the top of the sixth to keep their playoff hopes alive.

With their game one loss, the Beacons needed a game two win to have any chance to qualify for their third-straight LEC Tournament. The Beacons (4-8 LEC) head into Saturday's regular season finale needing to win at least one more game then Keene State (5-7 LEC).

The Owls, currently sits a game ahead of the Beacons in the LEC standings, but the Beacons host last-place Rhode Island College (1-10 LEC), while Keene State heads to second-place Eastern Connecticut State University (8-4 LEC). UMass Boston would win any tiebreakers with the Owls thanks to their doubleheader split with first-place Plymouth State University (10-2 LEC).

Sophomore Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) had a huge day for the Beacons. She threw 10 of the 13 innings, and allowed just three earned runs.

GAME ONE

UMass Boston's game one struggles continued, as the Owls scored an unearned run in the second inning, and held off the Beacons.

Keene State junior Molly St. Germain allowed just three hits and struck out eight in a complete-game shutout win for the Owls. She also added two hits, a walk and scored the lone run of the game.  

Greenspan was nearly as good. The sophomore scattered seven hits and three walks and allowed just one unearned run in six innings.

Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.), Kelly Danahy (Kingston, Mass.) and Vento registered the three Beacons hits in the loss.

Keene State scored the only run they would need thanks to a Beacons miscue and a couple of bang-bang calls going their way in the second. With one out, St. Germain singled and was called safe at second base when the Beacons failed to complete the play on a fielder's choice. Two batters later, Julie Elwell beat the throw across the diamond for an RBI infield single with two outs. Cassie Woods followed with a single to center, but Pawlina gunned down the runner trying to score from second to keep the game 1-0.

Pawlina opened the following inning with a double, but was stranded there after a popup and back-to-back strikeouts.

Vento reach third in the fourth inning, but St. Germain induced a ground out to second base to get out of the jam.

GAME TWO

With their backs against the wall, UMass Boston struck for their second-biggest inning of the season, to hand the Owls a shocking loss.

UMass Boston raced out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning, but left the bases loaded with no outs in the frame. It looked like it would come back to bite the Beacons, when Keene tied the game in the fourth and took a 6-3 lead in the fifth on Lauren Rousseau's 3-run homer.

UMass Boston answered right back. Greenspan, who had recorded one at-bat all season long, opened the inning with a single and moved to second on an Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) single. The Owls made a costly mistake on the next play, as they failed to get an out on a fielder's choice and Greenspan scored on a throwing error.

Danahy followed with a single to load the bases and Vento crushed a grand slam over the right-center field to give the Beacons the lead at 8-6.

Greenspan took over from there, as she worked around a pair of singles to close out the win.

Vento led the Beacons in the win by going 2-3, with two runs, four RBI and a walk. Pawlina tacked on a team-high three hits, while freshman Cassidy Gaeta (North Reading, Mass.) had two hits and an RBI.

In the circle, Greenspan allowed seven hits and three earned runs in four innings of relief. Freshman Drew Washington (Bordentown, N.J.) got the start and allowed four hits and two runs (one earned).

Keene State went with freshman Olivia McGrath in the circle in game two. She allowed three earned runs in just over an inning, before St. Germain came on for the final six frames.

UMass Boston took their first lead of the day in the second inning. Vento and Pawlina opened the inning with back-to-back singles and Vento easily scored on Alyssa Tulley's (Lowell, Mass.) RBI single. After a walk loaded the bases, Gaeta laced a single to right to score Pawlina. Keene State made a pitching change at that point, but Washington was able to work a walk off St. Germain to make it 3-0.  St. Germain settled down from there, recording a lineout, a fly out and a strike out to keep the deficit at three.

The Owls slowly cut into the deficit. They scored one run in each of the next three frames to tie the game at 3-3. Keene State could have done even more damage, but the Beacons turned an inning-ending double play to end the third. In the fourth, Greenspan allowed one run, but then induced a lineout to short with two outs-after inheriting a bases-loaded jam. 

UMass Boston had a chance to take the lead back in the fifth, but they couldn't scratch across a run despite putting runners on second and third with no outs.

Keene took the lead in the bottom of the inning. With no outs, the Owls recorded back-to-back singles and then Rousseau cleared the wall in left.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • UMass Boston's five-run, sixth inning in game two was tied for their second-biggest inning of the season. They scored 11 runs in the top of the first inning against Becker College in Florida (March 11). UMass Boston also scored five runs against Lesley University (April 12) in the bottom of the sixth inning of game two.
  • Vento tied her career-high for homers in a single-season (four) with her grand slam. She also moved into a tie for second in career home runs with 11.
  • UMass Boston improved to 5-39 all-time against the Owls with the split. The Beacons have won three of the past five meetings, after having lost the previous eight games.
  • With the win, Greenspan tied the program record with her 27th career victory.
  • Pawlina finished the day 4-6 with a run scored and a double.
  • Head coach Natalia Ardagna has now won 196 career games between her one-year stint at Simmons College and her time at UMass Boston.
  • Greenspan came into today's action 0-8 at the plate in her collegiate career. She was forced to hit, after coming on for Washington who was hitting for herself in the lineup. 

WHO'S NEXT

UMass Boston will host Salve Regina University on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. The Beacons will then close out the regular season Saturday when they host Rhode Island College at 1/3 p.m.