PLYMOUTH, Mass.—Sophomore Giovanna Bonilla (Queens, N.Y.) just barely slid in underneath a tag at home plate to help sixth-seeded UMass Boston walk-off on Day Two of the 2018 Little East Conference Tournament at D&M Park.
#6 UMass Boston 6, #5 University of Southern Maine
(UMass Boston 15-23)
(Southern Maine 21-20)
HOW IT HAPPENED
For the second-straight day, #6 UMass Boston took on a higher seed and fought off several late rallies to advance in the LEC Winner's Bracket.
With the win, #6 UMass Boston will take on the winner of #4 Western Connecticut State University and #5 UMass Dartmouth in the LEC Semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m.. Both teams come in at 2-0 in the tournament and the winner will advance to the LEC Championship Series. The loss ends the season for the University of Southern Maine.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Bonilla worked a walk and moved to second on a Cassidy Gaeta (North Reading, Mass.) walk. Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) followed with a line-drive single to right and Bonilla just barely got underneath the tag on the relay throw home.
The Beacons had to overcome several defensive miscues to move to 2-0 in the LEC Tournament. UMass Boston raced out to a 4-0 lead after 2 and led 5-4 going into the seventh, only to have Southern Maine tie the game twice on errors.
Bilotta led the Beacons with a team-best three hits in five at-bats. Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) and Gaeta each added a hit, a run scored and an RBI, with Gaeta tacking on two walks.
In the circle, Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) moved to 5-0 in LEC Tournament play in her career. She allowed five hits and five runs (two earned) over eight innings of work.
Taylor Lux led the "visiting" Huskies with two hits and two runs scored, while Kayleigh Bohan added a hit and run scored. Senior catcher Courtney Davis went 0-0 with a run scored and four walks in the final game of her collegiate career.
#6 UMass Boston erupted for four runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) opened the frame with a single and Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) followed by reaching on an error. Braga made it 1-0 by lacing a single to center and Braga and Pawlina both moved up one base on an error. After a groundout to short, Bonilla pushed the lead to 2-0, as she recorded an RBI groundout.
Gaeta blasted an RBI double to score Braga from third and Gaeta came in to score on a Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) RBI single with two outs.
Southern Maine cut the deficit to 4-2 in the fourth, when Bohan came through with a two-run, two-out RBI single up the middle.
The Huskies tied it up at 4-4 in the sixth, when two runners came in to score on a double steal and a throwing error.
UMass Boston immediately took the lead back in the bottom of the inning. Pawlina opened the inning with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a Braga groundout and scurried home on Tulley's go-ahead RBI single.
Southern Maine responded back with a run in the top of the seventh though. With one out, Davis walked and moved to third on a Beacons' throwing error. Lux followed with an RBI groundout to tie the game at 5-5. Southern Maine had a chance to take the lead, but Greenspan got the next hitter to ground back to the circle.
After a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, UMass Boston walked-off for the fourth-time this season in the bottom of the frame.
BY THE NUMBERS
- With the win, UMass Boston improved to 11-11 all-time in LEC Tournament play. The Beacons are 10-3 over the past three tournaments, after going 1-8 in their first six appearances.
- UMass Boston is 2-0 in the LEC Tournament for just the second-time in program history. The Beacons started 2-0 last year, lost their third game to #1 Plymouth State, before winning three-straight games to earn the 2017 LEC Title.
- Head coach Natalia Ardagna now has won 199 career games as a collegiate softball coach.
- UMass Boston has posted at least nine hits in both of their first two tournament games and 19 total. No other team has recorded more than eight hits through the first five LEC Tournament games.
- In her last six LEC Tournament games, Greenspan has allowed two earned runs or fewer in every game and just six earned runs in 38 innings (1.10 ERA).
#6 UMass Boston will take on the winner of #4 Western Connecticut State University and #5 UMass Dartmouth in game four on Friday (scheduled for 4 p.m.).