BOSTON, Mass.—With their backs against the wall on the final day of their regular season, UMass Boston softball (6-26, 3-11 Little East) kept their playoff hopes alive, with a two-game sweep of UMass Dartmouth (7-18, 3-10 Little East) on Senior Day at the UMB Softball Field.
The Beacons needed five games to go their way to have a chance at the sixth and final spot in next week's Little East Conference Softball Tournament, and had the first four games go their way on Saturday. With their sweep of UMass Dartmouth and Keene State's sweep of Rhode Island College, the Beacons are tied with UMass Dartmouth with only three LEC games left to played. If Rhode Island College defeats UMass Dartmouth (11-7 RIC top 6th) in their rain-halted conference game at a date and time still to be announced, the Beacons would earn the sixth and final spot in the tournament and return to the LEC Conference Tournament for the fourth time in five years.
Knowing they needed two wins to keep their playoff hopes alive, seniors Samantha Hemstock (North Brandford, Conn.), Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.), Kirsten Morrison (North Reading, Mass.) and Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) all played big parts in the team's first sweep of the 2015 season.
Game One: UMass Boston 3, UMass Dartmouth 2
UMass Boston scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning and freshman pitcher Kaera Wyse (Danvers, Mass.) took it from there, in a must-win contest for the Beacons.
Wyse set a new program-record with her third career double-digit strikeout game, as she struck out 12 batters to tie her own personal-record. The freshman allowed just five hits and two earned runs, while finishing one strikeout shy of the program record for strikeouts in a game. She broke a tie with Courtney Haroules ('08) for most career double-digit strikeouts games, as Haroules threw two such contests in the 2008 season.
Offensively, Hemstock, Morrison and Capra each produced an RBI hit in the bottom of the first inning, to provide just enough support for Wyse. Hemstock finished a team-best 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while Morrison and lead-off hitter Kaitlyn Morse (Arlington, Mass.) scored the other two runs.
Freshman Hannah Smith was the tough-luck loser, as she allowed five hits and three runs in the first inning, before finishing with a final line of six innings, eight hits and three earned.
UMass Dartmouth took their first of three leads on the day in the top of the first, as Abby Tremblay drove in Emily Colton with a single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.
The Beacons would need just two batters to tie the game up, as Morse reached on a bunt single and moved over to second on a throwing error. With no outs and Morse on second, Hemstock laced her first collegiate triple in 117 career games, to easily score Morse. Morrison followed with an RBI single to plate Hemstock, and three batters later, Capra blooped an RBI single into center field for a 3-1 Beacons lead.
Wyse would settle in from there, as she allowed just three hits and one run the rest of the way. She struck out the side in the second and fifth innings and recorded at least one strikeout in every inning but the third.
The Corsairs cut the deficit to 3-2 in the fourth inning, as Colton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 3-2, but Wyse retired Rachel Carey with a strikeout to get out of the jam.
Game Two: UMass Boston 8, UMass Dartmouth 3
After struggling to score runs for the past two weeks, UMass Boston erupted for a five-run fourth inning and tied their season-high with eight runs scored in a home game, to take game two 8-3.
The Beacons' senior leaders would come up clutch once again in game two, as Morrison and Hemstock combined to go 6-for-7 with four runs scored and four RBI, while Zullo picked up her program-record 27th collegiate win.
Hemstock finished 3-for-4 with three hits and two RBI, including producing a double and a triple. Morrison finished with three singles and two RBI, while Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.) added two hits and two RBI of her own.
In the circle, Zullo allowed just six hits and three runs scored over seven innings.
Tremblay led the Corsairs offense, as the designated played/relief pitcher went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI singles.
Freshman pitcher Mary Pieroni took the loss in game two, as she allowed 10 hits and five earned runs over 3.1 innings pitched.
The two teams would trade runs in the first and third innings, before UMass Boston scored six straight in the fourth and fifth innings to grab control of the game.
After Tremblay drove in Colton with an RBI single in the top of the first, Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) answered back for the Beacons with an RBI single to plate Hemstock.
Tremblay would make it 2-1 in the top of the third, as she drove in Rachel Carey with two down.
The Beacons' responded back with a run of their own though, as Hemstock slid past the Corsairs catcher on a fielder's choice, with Mitsiaris picking up the RBI.
After a scoreless top of the fourth, the Beacons took their first and only lead of game two-with five runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth.
With two runners in scoring position and one out, Hemstock delivered her second triple in as many games, to easily plate Dutton and Morse. Morrison followed with an RBI single to score Hemstock and the Beacons tacked on two more runs on a wild pitch and a Mitsiaris RBI single. That would signal the end of the day for Pieroni, as Tremblay retired two of the next three batters, but the damage had been done, as UMass Boston took a 7-2 lead into the fifth.
Morrison pushed the lead out to 8-2 in the sixth, as she hit a deep sacrifice fly to score Morse with two down in the inning.
UMass Dartmouth mounted a rally in the top of the sixth, but were limited to just the one run. Pieroni singled down the left-field line to score Tremblay and make it 8-3, with the Corsairs third-straight hit. After Zullo walked the next batter, she got the next two batters to hit into a pop-up and a groundout, to strand the bases loaded.
The Corsairs would go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh, as UMass Boston kept their playoff hopes alive.