CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—UMass Boston softball stumbled early, but settled down and played a competitive final six innings in their NCAA Regional opener against #15 Tufts University.
#15 Tufts University 6, UMass Boston 1
(UMass Boston 17-24)
(Tufts University 30-8)
HOW IT HAPPENED
After giving up five runs in the bottom of the first inning, UMass Boston played one of the top teams in the nation even (1-1) over the final six frames.
With the loss, UMass Boston will take on Framingham State University, the loser of Friday's second game, on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Sophomore Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) led the Beacons with two hits in four at-bats. Fellow sophomore Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) added a single and an RBI, while junior Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) was credited with the Beacons' final hit.
Junior catcher Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) worked two of UMass Boston's four walks to set the single-season record for walks. She worked her record setting 27th free pass of the year in the first inning, and now has 28 walks in 41 starts.
In the circle, sophomore Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) overcame a slow start to limit the Jumbos to just four earned runs in six innings of play.
Tufts starter Kristina Haghdan allowed just two hits and no earned runs over five innings of work, to pick up her 12th win of the season.
Jumbos leadoff hitter Samantha Siciliano was a catalyst for the "hosts" finishing 2-4 with two runs scored.
UMass Boston threatened in the top of the first inning. Bilotta opened the inning with a single back to the circle. After Bilotta was erased on a fielder's choice, Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) took second on a wild pitch and third on a groundout. The Jumbos worked around Vento to put runners on the corners with two down, but Haghdan retired the next batter on a groundout.
Tufts immediately answered with a five-run bottom of the first inning. The Jumbos racked up the five runs on five singles, one walk and a Beacons' error. The damage could've been worse, but Pawlina threw out a runner at second for the second out and Greenspan then induced a popup.
Both pitchers settled in from there, with the next nine batters going down in order. Tufts tried to increase their lead in the bottom of the third, but Greenspan got back-to-back pop up outs, after the Jumbos put two runners in scoring position with one out.
UMass Boston got their offense going in the fourth. The Beacons loaded the bases on a walk, an infield single and an error but Haghdan retired Giovanna Bonilla (Queens, N.Y.) after a lengthy battle.
The Beacons managed to score their first run of the tournament in the sixth. Vento opened the inning with a walk and was replaced at first by pinch runner Gianna Salemi (Windsor, Conn.). Salemi moved to second on a sac bunt, third on a wild pitch and easily came home on Braga's line drive single to left-center.
Tufts responded with a single unearned run in the bottom of the inning. Again it could have been worse, but Greenspan allowed just one unearned after Tufts loaded the bases with one out.
BY THE NUMBERS
- UMass Boston lost the NCAA Regional opener to Amherst College, another nationally ranked side last season, before winning two games on Day 2 of the Regional.
- With her two walks, Vento now has a .497 on-base percentage on the season. Vento posted the fifth-highest OBP in program history last season, when she ended the season with a .503 mark.
- Pawlina extended her hitting streak to five-straight games. She has hit safely in seven of the last eight and has multiple hits in four of those contests.
- Greenspan made her 50th start in the contest, including her fourth NCAA Regional start.
- Friday's game marked just the five all-time meetings between the two local Boston schools. Tufts leads the all-time series 4-1, after UMass Boston took the first-ever meeting 43-8.
UMass Boston will play the second game on Saturday against t Framingham State. The Beacon swept the Rams 7-6, 10-0 (6 innings) on April 5 at Framingham State. If the Beacons win their first game on Saturday, they will play immediately afterwards for a spot in the NCAA Regional. With rain in the forecast, check back on beaconsathletics.com and the UMass Boston twitter account (@UMassBeacons).