Tigers Upset Bid Comes Up Short As 13/18 Kentucky Rallies In The Seventh
Just three outs away from upsetting 13/18 Kentucky to start the 2012 season, the Pacific softball team saw their upset hopes dashed as the Wildcats rallied for three runs in their final at bat to beat the Tigers, 3-2, on Friday, February 10. The win was the first of the season for the Wildcats, who fell 7-1 to UCLA the night before, while the Tigers dropped to 0-1 on the new season.
Throughout the opening game of the 2012 season, the Tigers looked like the better team as Pacific dominated at the plate and in the circle for six solid innings. For six solid innings, junior Nikki Armagost and the Tiger defense held the Wildcat offense at a standstill while Pacific's offense pieced together a solid showing and a lead against one of the best pitching staffs in the country.
However, six solid innings would not be enough for the Tigers to hold on to the victory the Wildcats rallied in the final inning of play to turn the tides of the contest and steal a win from Pacific. Making the most of her final trip to the plate against the Tigers, Kentucky's starting pitcher, Rachel Riley, took matters into her own hands in the top of the seventh inning when the senior lifted a two-run home run to center field to tie the game at 2-2. After getting on the board for the first time in the game, the Wildcats completed their comeback two batters later when Griffin Joiner sent a deep fly ball over the left field wall, just over the tip of the outstretched glove of Pacific's left fielder, Megan Foglesong.
Seeing their lead evaporate the Tigers went to work in the bottom of the seventh in an attempt to salvage the win. Sophomore Taylor Petty, starting in right field for the first time in her career, gave the Tigers' hope to begin the inning as she belted a leadoff double to right-center to place the tying run in scoring position with three outs to play with. After moving the runner to third, the Tigers sent the top of the order to the plate with a chance to tie the game just 60 feet away. However, the late game rally was not to be as junior Megan Hom saw her flare to center find the glove of Emily Jolly while Foglesong's scorched line drive to left found its way directly into the web of Macy Allen's mitt.
Prior to the seventh inning, the Tigers were on cruise control throughout their season-opening contest with the Wildcats as Armagost came out of the gates firing on all cylinders as the junior ace kept a no-hit bid intact through the first five innings of play. Even when the Wildcats managed to find their way on base the Tigers' defense snuffed out any thoughts of advance as Pacific ended both the third and fifth innings with double plays.
Offensively, the Tigers appeared to be in good form from the outset, picking up seven hits and a bevy of chances against Riley, only to come just short of converting their chances into runs that proved critical in the end. Scoring first against the Wildcats, the Tigers tacked on their only two runs of the day on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth inning as Pacific mounted a two-out rally with four straight hits. Senior Nicole Matsongot things going for the Tigers in the inning with an infield single to the 5-6 hole followed by a sharp single through the left side by sophomore Kelsey Rodriguez. With runners at the corners after Matson stole third, junior Amy Moore broke up the pitcher's duel with a single through the right side to pick up her first RBI of the year. Senior Alexa Rivera wasted no time following suit as the second basemen lined a shot to left that allowed Rodriguez to score from second.
The Tigers had another big chance in the fifth to tally some insurance runs after Hom reached by error and Armagost roped a double to set up runners inscoring position. However, a mistake on the base paths would cost the Tigers their chance for more runs and with it, eventually, a chance for the upset.
For Armagost, the junior picked up the loss in the circle despite giving up just three hits and relinquishing just one earned run to the Wildcats. In seven complete innings, Armagost struck out two and walked just one while facing 25 batters. Her counterpart, Riley, took home her first win of the year as she went seven complete innings while giving up seven hits and two runs.
Armagost also led the way offensively as she went 2-for-2 with a walk while five other Tigers recorded one hit in the contest.
Pacific will look to rebound on Saturday, February 11, when they take on (13/19) UCLA in a single game to end the weekend's action. The Tigers and the Bruins will clash at 12:00 pm from Easton Stadium on the campus of UCLA.