Pacific Softball: Tigers Split At UC Riverside After Fifth Longest Game In Program History
In two very different contests, the Pacific softball team split a pair of games against UC Riverside on Saturday, April 24, as they took game one, 11-2 in five innings, before suffering a 4-3 loss in 13 innings in game two. The second game was the fifth longest game in program history and moved the Tigers to 18-25 overall and 4-6 in conference play while the Highlanders moved to 22-22 overall and 7-4 in the Big West.
To open what would be a very long day for both teams, the Tigers blasted the second ranked Highlanders to pick up the five inning, mercy rule shortened contest. Building slowly throughout the game, the Tigers posted a single run in the first to start things off. With a runner at second and one out in the inning, freshman Nikki Armagost (Andover, Kan.) delivered the first hit of the game for Pacific with a double over the left fielders head, plating freshman Megan Hom (Irvine, Calif.) in the process.
Two innings later, the Tigers struck again, this time scoring a pair of runs on their first home run of the day, a two-out, two-run blast to left field from senior Kellee Wilson (Tracy, Calif.). Wilson's home run plated senior Karie Wilson (Glendale, Ariz.) who had reached base two batters earlier on a single down the left field line.
After trading runs in the fourth inning to make it a 4-1 game, Pacific buried the Highlanders in the top of the fifth inning with seven runs. Benefitting from a pair of mistakes in the field and four big hits to do their damage. Freshman Megan Allen (Yucaipa, Calif.) put the Tigers on the board first in the inning with a two-run shot off the score board in left field for her seventh home run of the year. After the home run, the Tigers put their next seven runs aboard either with a hit, and error or a walk. During the run, Hom, Karie Wilsonand Kellee Wilson all picked up RBIs to give the Tigers the runs needed for the early stoppage.
Handed an 11-1 lead, junior Shaina Brock (Derby, Kan.) finished off the contest in the bottom of the fifth inning, allowing just one unearned run in the inning after giving up a leadoff single to Brooke Hebenton. In all, Brock proved to be too much for the Highlanders as she gave up just two runs on five scattered hits while striking out three and walking two. The win was Brock's first of the conference season while she improved to 5-9 overall on the year. The Highlanders' Marissa Alvidrez, one of the conference's hottest pitchers coming into the weekend, suffered the loss as she lasted 4.1 innings while giving up eight hits and six runs.
The story of game two played out completely different for the Tigers as they played more extra innings then regulation innings played in the first game of the day. In the first seven innings of play, the Tigers and the Highlanders managed to score six combined runs while over the final six innings the two teams scored just one.
As they did in the first game, the Tigers scored first, posting a single run in the top of the second inning. After a leadoff walk was issued to sophomore Alexa Rivera (Sacramento, Calif.) the Tigers stole the run with heads up base running by their second baseman. After advancing to third on a sacrifice and a single, Rivera took advantage of a line drive out to the shortstop to take home when Kameryn Hebenton tried to double off freshman Amy Moore (Valencia, Calif.) at first.
With the one run lead, Armagost, Pacific's starter in the game, made one of her few mistakes in the contest as she walked the leadoff batter in the bottom of the inning before giving up a two-run home run over the right field fence to Brittany Keeney. Despite the set back, Armagost immediately helped herself out in the very next inning when she picked up a sacrifice fly to center field that was just deep enough to bring home Hom who had singled to start the inning.
The Highlanders took back the lead from Pacific in the bottom of the fifth inning on back-to-back singles by Kayla White and Hebenton who's combined hits made use of another leadoff walk.
Down to their last at bats in the seventh, the Tigers rallied for a single run which knotted the game at 3-3 and sent the two teams on their way towards the epic battle in extra innings. Singles by Moore, senior Brittany Hendrickson (San Jose, Calif.) and junior Lindsey Pierce (Camarillo, Calif.) gave the Tigers their scoring opportunity which Karie Wilsontook advantage of with a sacrifice fly to center field. However, on the play the Tigers committed their first base running mistake of the late innings when Pierce was thrown out at third to end the inning trying to advance on the fly ball.
In the eighth, the Tigers had yet another chance to jump ahead in the contest when Armagost reached third with only one out. On a fly ball to center, Armagost appeared to score the go ahead run, but on an appeal was called out at third for leaving early on the tag up attempt. Pacific would pick up a two more opportunities later in the game when they put runners at first and second with only one out in both the 11th and 12th innings, only to come away empty handed.
The missed opportunities eventually came back to bit the Tigers and Armagost as the freshman made one last mistake in the bottom of the 13th that proved to be the difference in the contest. With two outs in the inning, Armagost let an outside pitch catch just a little too much of the plate for Brooke Hebenton who slapped a floating shot over the center field fence to put an end to the three hour contest.
For the game, Armagost threw 228 pitches in 12.2 innings of work as she suffered her fourth straight loss to fall to 10-8 on the year. Overall, Armagost gave up 10 hits and four runs while striking out three and walking six. Her counterpart and the game's winning pitcher, Amy Lwin, went all 13 for the Highlanders as she gave up 11 hits and three runs while striking out one and walking three on 157 pitches.
The 13 inning contest was the fifth longest contest in Pacific program history as the Tigers have also played two 15 inning games and two 14 innings games in their 23 year history.
The Tigers will look to capture the series against the Highlanders on Sunday, April 25, when the two teams meet for game three. The game is scheduled for 12:00 pm.