BOSTON, Mass.—Freshman Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) and sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) combined to go 7-for-8, with three runs scored and two RBI in game two, to lead softball to a split with defending Little East Conference Regular Season Champion Keene State College.
Keene State College 4, UMass Boston 3 (9 Innings)
UMass Boston 6, Keene State 3 (6 Innings)
(UMass Boston 17-8, Little East 4-4)
(Keene State College 13-10, Little East 4-2)
HOW IT HAPPENED
On a day that was dominated by good pitching and strong two-out hitting, both teams left the UMB Softball Field feeling as if they could have earned a sweep.
In the first game, Keene State rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game in the sixth, and eventually earned a 4-3 win behind nine strong innings from ace Molly St. germain.
The Owls jumped out to 1-0 lead in game two, only to have the Beacons post a pair of three-run innings. With the game tied at three and the sun almost set, UMass Boston struck for three runs and had the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, when the game was called due to darkness.
Prusmack and Vento were nearly unstoppable on the day. The pair finished 13-for-16 with four runs scored and four RBI.
Keene State College scored three of their four runs with two down, to earn a win in a pitcher's duel in game one.
St. germain went the full nine innings and allowed nine hits, three runs and two walks, while stranding eight Beacons-to earn her 10th win of the season. St. germain also helped herself at the plate, with three hits, one run scored and two RBI.
In the circle for UMass Boston, Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) was the unlucky loser. The freshman gave up 11 hits, most of which were softly hit, and four earned runs in nine innings. She also struck out five and walked two.
Vento went 3-for-4 in game one with two RBI, while Prusmack tacked on three hits of her own and a run scored. Freshmen Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) chipped in with a base hit and a run scored and Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) recorded two walks and a run.
The Beacons opened the scoring with a run in the bottom of the first. Bilotta singled up the middle, moved to second on a Braga bunt and raced in on Vento's RBI single.
UMass Boston doubled their lead in the third. With runners at the corners and no outs, Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) ripped a single down the right field line to score Braga.
After recording just two hits through the first five innings, the Owls struck for two runs in the sixth. With one out, Kayla Votto singled, stole second and scampered home on a St. germain RBI single up the middle. St. germain tied the scored with two down, after Olivia Indorf's fly ball fell in just in front of the Beacons' right fielder.
Keene State loaded the bases with two down, but Greenspan induced a chopper back to the circle and got the lead runner at home plate.
The Owls struck for another two-out run in the seventh. With two outs and no one on, Votto ripped a triple to right, and easily scored on a softly-hit single from St. germain.
UMass Boston wouldn't go down easily though. Prusmack led off with a single, moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a passed ball. Vento ripped a single off the shortstop's glove to tie the game, but UMass Boston stranded the game-winning run at third base.
In the eighth inning, Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.) nearly was the walk-off hero. The senior first baseman hit a blast to left field that tailed foul, and missed the foul pole by less than a foot.
Keene State opened the ninth with back-to-back infield singles to put the pressure on the Beacon's defense. Shae Crosby moved to third on a fly out to right field and then just beat the throw home from left field on Votto's sacrifice fly.
St. germain sent the Beacons down in order in the ninth to clinch the win.
The Beacons used a pair of three-run innings and strong pitching from all three of their of their pitchers to earn the split.
Everyone from two-through-seven in the Beacons' lineup recorded an RBI with Prusmack and Vento having standout games. Prusmack went a perfect 4-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, while Vento finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
Raczkowski was the only other Beacon with multiple hits, as she finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
Greenspan came on and threw a perfect sixth inning to earn her 13th win of the year. Freshman Megan Hoben (Bedford, Mass.) earned her first conference start and allowed just two runs, one earned, in 3.1 innings pitched. Sophomore Annie Thomas (Lunenburg, Mass.) came on for Hoben and gave up two hits and one run in 1.2 innings.
St. germain took the loss after allowing 14 hits and six runs, five earned, in 5.1 innings.
The game got off to an inauspicious start for the Beacons, after Keene State scored a run on a Beacons' error with two down in the top of the first.
Things got worse in the bottom half of the inning. The Beacons saw a player go down with an injury and the Beacons left the bases loaded, after having no outs and the bases full.
Indorf pushed the lead to 2-0 for Keene State in the top of the third, when her two-out RBI doubles easily plated Jenny Galavotti.
UMass Boston would finally break through in the bottom of the third. Prusmack tripled over the head of the Keene outfield and raced home on a Vento RBI groundout. Rackowski followed with a single and moved to second on a throwing error. She never stopped running on the following play, as the senior came motoring home and beat the tag on an infield single from Kaitlyn "KMO" Morse (Arlington, Mass.).
Morse advanced to second on the throwto the plate and stole third with two down. She crossed the plate to make it 3-2, thanks to a Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.) RBI single through the left side.
The Owls managed to tie the game in the top of the fifth against Thomas. With two down and one out, Indorf hit a slow grounder up the middle that barely was enough to score St. germain. Keene State tried to take the lead with two down, but Galavotti was thrown out at home trying to tag from third, on a perfect throw-and-catch from Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) to Vento.
With the umpire warning that the bottom of the sixth would be the final inning due to limited light, UMass Boston came through one final time.
Braga led off with an infield single and moved to second on a Bilotta sac bunt. Prusmack slapped a single through a drawn-in infield to score Braga and make it 4-3. Vento followed with an opposite-field double that nearly cleared the fence to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. The Beacons executed a perfect suicide squeeze to make it 5-3, with Prusmack barely beating the throw on Raczkowski's RBI bunt. After loading the bases, Alyssa Tulley (Lowell, Mass.) was hit by a pitch to plate Vento and make it 6-3.
At that point the Keene State coach asked the umpires to call the game, with the Beacons having already taking the lead after the minimum of five completed innings.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Vento and Prusmack rank first and second in the Little East on the season with their .474 and .458 batting averages. In conference games, Prusmack leads the entire league with her .680 average (17-for-25), while Vento sits sixth at .483.
- Greenspan tied the single-season record for wins in a season with 13. She is tied with Thomas and Emily Wolf ('10).
- UMass Boston improved to 4-38 all-time against the Owls. The Beacons earned their first regular-season win against the Owls since 2012 and have now won two of the past three meetings.
- With their game two win, UMass Boston earned their first home win of the year. The Beacons had started 0-4 in true home games.
- UMass Boston racked up 23 hits on the day and left eight baserunners in both games. Keene State finished with 16 hits and six baserunners on in both games.
- The Beacons hadn't played a nine-inning game since Thursday April 21, 2016, when they fell 3-2 in nine at the University of Southern Maine.
- With the split, UMass Boston stayed in a three-way tie for third place in the LEC with Plymouth State University and Eastern Connecticut State University at 4-4.
UMass Boston will host Salem State University on Thursday for a non-conference doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m.