Pacific Softball: Collier Finishes Off Pacific's Last Inning Rally To Lead The Tigers To A Sweep
With a sweep of the Highlanders on the line, sophomore Amanda Collier came through when it mattered most as the Tigers defeated UC Riverside with a single run in the seventh to take a 5-4, series sweeping, victory on Saturday, April 23. The win for the Tigers pushed their record to 30-15 overall and a conference-best 9-3 in the Big West.
The Tigers reached the 30 win plateau for the first time since the 2007 season while moving to 14-4 at Bill Simoni Field, matching their largest home win total since the 2001 season.
With the game tied at 4-4 and down to their last strike in regulation, the Tigers did what they do best as Collier produced some late game, two-out magic to lead Pacific to the win. Looking for something hard and down, Collier was able to stay back on a 2-2 changeup, flaring a single into right that allowed freshman Kelsey Rodriguez to score from second to end the game. The walk-off game-winner was the second in as many weeks for the Tigers' pinch hitter.
Prior to Collier's game-winning single, Rodriguez began the two-out rally with a sharp single to right. The freshman then put herself into scoring position by stealing second for the second time in the game. After a walk was issued to junior Alexa Rivera, Collier stepped to the plate where she proceeded to end the game.
Early in the contest the Tigers appeared to be in firm control, pushing ahead 4-0 through just three innings as they looked to make quick work of the Highlanders. The Tigers jumped on the board in the first with a single run after a leadoff error came back to haunt UC Riverside. With a runner at third and two-outs, junior Nicole Matson laced a single back up the middle to pick up her Big West leading 38th RBI of the season.
An inning later, Pacific pushed two more across the plate when sophomore Megan Hom and freshman Megan Foglesong picked up back-to-back bases loaded singles. The Tigers, however, would leave the big inning on the bases as a base running mistake cost the Tigers an out at the plate while a strike out would leave runners at second and third.
Pacific added a fourth run in the bottom of the third when Matson astutely took home on a ground ball out to third. The junior had put herself on base with her second single of the game to start the inning and moved to third on a sacrifice and Rodriguez's second straight single.
Up 4-0 and cruising, the Tigers would hit a roadblock to their win in the top of the fourth when the Highlanders would take back all four runs, once again doing most of their damage with just one swing. With the first two batters reaching on a single and a hit-by-pitch, Armagost, who was starting her second game of the weekend and third of the week, gave up her first run of the inning with a little bloop shot to right from Brooke Hebenton. Two batters later, Armagost would make her biggest mistake of the day as she left a pitch hanging that Alexis Pickett sent over the right field fence for the game-tying, three-run, home run. Armagost would pick up the final out of the inning on a strike out before being relieved from the game by freshman Tori Shepard. Armagost was charged with all four runs after giving up six hits in four full innings of work.
After struggling the day before in her start, Shepard put together a strong showing as the freshman threw three innings of scoreless relief to pick up her 11th win of the year. Despite giving up just three hits in three innings, Shepard did have to work some magic of her own to get out of a pair of jams in the fifth and the six innings as the Highlanders put runners at the corners with only one out in each of the innings. Shepard, however, was able to calmly pitch her way out of trouble in both situations before posting a dominating 1-2-3 inning through the heart of the Highlander order in the top of the seven.
Offensively, Pacific got its biggest performance out of the league's top hitter as Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with her lone run scored coming in the form of the game winner. Matson and Hom would each post two hit days as well as the Tigers posted 11 hits on the afternoon.
For the Highlanders, the offense managed nine hits with three different batters picking up multi-hit games. Pickett's three RBI lead the way for both teams as no other hitter posted more than one RBI in the game.
The Tigers are back in action on Saturday, April 30 as they travel to Fullerton, Calif. to take on the Titans in a battle of the two top teams in the Big West standings. The opening doubleheader is scheduled for 12:00 pm.