Pacific softball: Battle Of The Tigers Results In A Split With Princeton
Looking for their second straight double-header sweep in as many days, the Tigers could not hold off a late rally against Princeton in game one, giving up five runs in the final two innings to drop the opening contest. In the game, Pacific jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Princeton, scoring single runs in the second and third inning before dropping two in the fifth.
Opening the scoring, the Tigers used a pair of hits to do their damage, picking up a leadoff single to center from freshman Amy Moore (Valencia, Calif.) to start the second. After moving to third on a sacrifice and a ground ball out, Moore came in to score the first run of the game on a two-out, two-strike slap single through the right-side of the infield off the bat of senior Brittany Hendrickson (San Jose, Calif.). The RBI was the third of the week for the senior left fielder who posted pair against Iona the previous day.
Up one, the Tigers made it two in the bottom of the third, again posting two hits in the inning including picking up the RBI single in the inning with two outs, just as they had done the inning prior. Freshman Megan Hom (Irvine, Calif.) led the inning off with her first hit of the afternoon, a single to left-center. After putting herself in scoring position with her team-leading sixth stolen base of the year, Hom posted the second run of the game on a single up the middle by freshman Nikki Armagost (Andover, Kan.). The hit was the first of three for Armagost in the game.
"I could feel the pitch coming after what was thrown in my first two at bats," said Armagost. "When I saw the pitch and it was flat I was able to get a good swing on it, hit it hard and take it to right field."
Despite the four runs and sophomore Gabby McDaniel (Sacramento, Calif.) seemingly cruising in the circle, the game was not to be as Princeton rallied in the final two frames to steal the game. In the sixth, and after giving up just two hits prior, McDaniel saw her shutout bid erased in just two swings when Jaime Lettire and Kelsey Quist went back-to-back with home runs, the first of which was a two-run shot while Quist on the very next pitch, took a pitch out of the dirt and over the right field fence for the third run of the inning.
In the seventh, Princeton took advantage of a controversial fair ball call from the home plate umpire to start a two-out rally that resulted in what would-be two game-winning runs in the inning.
For the game, McDaniel threw seven complete innings but was tagged with her fifth defeat of the year as she gave up eight hits, seven coming in the final two innings, and five runs while striking out seven and walking just one. Alex Peyton was the benefactor of the rally as she picked up her second win of the year despite giving up 11 hits to the Tigers and four runs, striking out three and walking one.
Seeing game one stolen out from under them in the final inning, the Tigers came out in game two angry and ready to make up for their mistakes. Out of the gate, Pacific's bats were on fire as they put Princeton away in the first two innings of the contest with an offensive explosion that netted them nine of their 10 runs.
In the first, the Tigers again proved to be a hard third out to get as they strung together three straight hits in the meat of the order to score all three of their runs. After Hom and Armagost reached base safely with singles into left, senior Kellee Wilson (Tracy, Calif.) started Pacific's second game assault with a single to left-center that plated the first two runs of the game. She advanced all the way to third herself on the play on a throwing error by Princeton's shortstop who tried to throw behind Wilson at first after she rounded the bag on the hit. With Wilson 60 feet from scoring, freshman Megan Allen (Yucaipa, Calif.) drilled a double to dead center bringing home the third run of the inning for the Tigers.
Up three just one inning in, the Tigers put an end to any thoughts of a late game comeback by Princeton in just the second inning as they dented the plate six time in the second to take a commanding 9-0 lead in the contest. With one out in the inning, Hendrickson started the show for the Tigers with a single up the middle followed by a walk to junior Lindsey Pierce (Camarillo, Calif.) and another single by Hom. With their three fastest runners on base, the Tigers actually watched them take an easy stroll up 60 feet when senior Karie Wilson (Glendale, Ariz.) worked a six pitch walk to push home Hendrickson.
With the first run of the inning home and a second out recorded in the inning, Kellee Wilson made sure the Tigers would not waste their opportunity when she singled to right-center, picking up two more RBI, bringing her game total to four in just two innings. Following Wilson, Allen lined a single off of Princeton's third baseman, a shot hit too hard for the fielder to put a glove on resulting in an infield single and another bases loaded opportunity for the Tigers. Just as her fellow catcher did three at bats prior, Moore worked a six pitch walk to push home yet another Tiger run and keep the inning alive.
Despite making the first out of the inning on a strike out, sophomore Alexa Rivera (Sacramento, Calif.) got a chance for redemption as the Tigers batted around, bringing the second baseman to the plate with the bases loaded. With a second chance, Rivera blooped a single down the left field line, tallying the final two RBI of the inning.
In the third, the Tigers struck for the final time, plating a single insurance run to bring their game total to 10. Pierce got the inning started with a leadoff triple before coming home to score on Hom's third hit of the game.
With her offense pummeling Princeton's pitching staff, Armagost, Pacific's game two starter, was just as over powering in the circle against Princeton's lineup. In her second start of the week, Armagost was even better than she was in her previous performance as she held Princeton to just one hit in five innings of work. The freshman was nearly perfect in the circle as she allowed just three base runners in the game, two by walk and one by a weakly hit bloop single down the left field line in the top of the fourth that broke up the no hit bid.
In five innings of work, Armagost struck out five while facing 17 batters to move to 4-3 on the season. On the other side, Lettire fell to 0-6 on the year as she gave up nine of the Tigers 13 hits in the game while relinquishing nine of the 10 runs.
"Throwing against Princeton in game two I was able to hit my spots really well throughout the game and by doing so it worked out for the best," stated Armagost when asked about her pitching performance and giving up just one hit. "Being able to come back and play so well as a team in game two was really important and was a great way to end the week for us."
For the two game series, three Tigers each recorded four hits in Pierce, Hom and Armagost. All nine of Pacific's starters recorded hits in the double-header with Armagost posting hits in both games to move her hitting streak to six games, tying for the top mark on the team. In addition, Armagost drove in a team-high three runs in the two games.
"In the first game we kept Princeton close and in the game and they took advantage," said Head Coach Brian Kolze. "In the second game we played the way we should have played the entire first game. I am proud of the way we bounced back in the second contest and I know the first game was a great lesson learned about the intensity needed in every game and the intensity needed to win games."
Pacific is back in action on Wednesday, March 24 in Berkeley, Calif., as the Tigers travel to Cal to take on the Golden Bears. The solo contest is scheduled for 2:00 pm.