March 24, 2013

Softball Gets Back On Track With Doubleheader Sweep At Salve Regina

NEWPORT, R.I.—After slogging through a slew of errors and a lack of hitting during their six-game losing streak, UMass Boston (4-6) turned things around in a huge way Sunday afternoon during a doubleheader sweep of Salve Regina (5-7) at Toppa Field.

The Beacons used a pair of late-game rallies and strong efforts from their two pitchers to grab 9-2 and 4-2 victories.

After failing to record a hit through the first four innings of game one, UMB registered 10 hits and nine runs in the top of the seventh to avoid falling to 2-7 on the year. Senior Taryn Asta (Marshfield, Mass.) put the Beacons ahead with a key two-run single, while Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.), Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.) and Kelsey Svenson (Oxford, Conn.) each recorded two hits in the rally.

The trio would combine for all four of the Beacons RBI in the second contest, as Capra and Svenson made the most of their opportunities to get into the lineup. Capra tied the score at 2-2 with an RBI single in the top of the sixth, while Svenson put the Beacons ahead 3-2 with her third single of the game.

For the day, Capra finished 3-for-8 with a run and three RBI, while Svenson enjoyed a career day, going 5-for-7 with a run and two RBI. Bouyea was just as good, ending the day 3-for-6 with two runs and two RBI in the Beacons first wins since opening day.

While the offense provided late-game theatrics, the Beacons pair of underclassmen pitchers kept them within striking distance, behind a strong effort all day. The pair allowed four runs, three earned, in 14 innings of work and allowed just one walk.

Game One: UMass Boston 9, Salve Regina 2

Through six innings at Toppa Field UMass Boston failed to get anything going against Seahawks starter Jen Cruver, but that all would change in a big way in the top half of the seventh.

After mustering just one hit and four baserunners in the first six innings, the Beacons marched 14 batters to the plate, recorded 10 hits and plated nine runs to wipe away a week of frustrating defeats.

Capra led the Beacons with two hits and two RBI, while Svenson and Bouyea each tallied a pair of hits.

On the mound, freshman Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) outlasted Cruver to improve to 2-3 on the season. The right-hander allowed eights hits and two earned runs over seven innings, while allowing one walk. In her past four appearances, Gray has allowed two runs or fewer in all four, while recording a complete game in every collegiate start she's made.

Despite the wide margin of the victory, the Beacons could get very little going through the first six innings.

Cruver retired the order in three of the first six innings and the only baserunners to reach for UMB came on two errors, a single and a hit by pitch.

At the same time, the Seahawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead, behind single runs in the second and third.

But the Beacons turned the corner against Cruver in the seventh.

Bouyea led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a fielder's choice, as Toni Scola (Worcester, Mass.) reached second, when the Seahawks tried to cut down the lead runner. Capra reached on a bunt single to load the bases and Svenson cut the deficit to 2-1 with an RBI single to right field.

Salve Regina temporarily cut the bleeding when Kristina Bove (Medford, Mass.), who had UMB's only hit in the first six innings, grounded into a fielder's choice-with Scola out at home, but seven of the next eight batters recorded base hits to blow the game open.

Kelsey Souza (Braintree, Mass.) tied the game at 2-2 with an RBI single and advanced all the way to third on a 2-run, go-ahead single from Asta. Sam Hemstock (Northford, Conn.) pushed the lead to 5-2 with an RBI groundout and Erika Vecchiet (Pequannock, N.J.) made it 6-2 with an RBI single to left field.

One batter later, Scola cracked the Beacons only extra-base hit of the game with a run-scoring double and she came across to score on Capra's two-run single to cap off the Beacons nine-run inning.

The Beacons nine-run frame was their highest scoring inning since April 11 of last year, when UMB scored 10 runs in the second inning of a 21-0 mercy-rule win at Gordon College.

Gray made quick work of the Seahawks in the seventh, as she retired three straight batters, after allowing a leadoff double.

Game Two: UMass Boston 4, Salve Regina

Game two would follow a similar, albeit less dramatic, script to the Beacons' game one win.

Salve Regina once again held the lead for much of the game, only to have UMass Boston respond with a late flurry to earn the doubleheader sweep.

Svenson led the Beacons with three singles and an RBI, while Vecchiet, Hemstock and Souza all tallied two hits apiece. Bouyea picked up two of the four Beacons RBI in the contest and recorded one of four UMB doubles for her only hit of the contest.

One of the biggest stories of the contest though was the performance of sophomore pitcher Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.). After struggling with her control in her final three starts in Florida, Zullo put together an impressive performance, giving up just one earned run and no walks over seven innings. The right-hander improved to 2-3 by striking out three and allowing just six hits.

Salve Regina took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI double from Marissa Simpson and would hold onto the lead for the next two innings.

UMass Boston continued to struggle against Cruver early, picking up just two hits over the course of the first three innings, before finally striking for a run in the fourth. Hemstock led off the inning with a double for the Beacons and came across to score on a sacrifice fly from Bouyea to make it 1-1 through three and a half.

The Seahawks went back on top in the bottom of the fifth on an infield single, but stranded two runners on with one out, when Hemstock picked a runner off third to put down the rally.

Hemstock led off the sixth with a single and moved to second on a Vecchiet single. With two outs and the runners in the same positions, Capra singled up the middle to score Hemstock and make it 2-2. After Capra stole second to put runners on second and third, Svenson registered an RBI infield single to give UMB a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.

UMass Boston added an insurance run in the seventh when Bouyea blasted a double to left-center to score Hemstock and put the Beacons ahead 4-2. 

Zullo made quick work of the Seahawks in the final two innings, allowing just one single, to help the Beacons move within two games of .500.

UMass Boston is scheduled to play their home opener Tuesday afternoon against Bridgewater State University at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m.