April 24, 2013

Walk-off Win Lifts Softball To Key Little East Sweep of Southern Maine

BOSTON, Mass.—For the third consecutive doubleheader UMass Boston mobbed home plate after a walk-off win, as Kelsey Souza's (Braintree, Mass.) RBI single in the bottom of the eight inning of game two helped the Beacons earn a sweep of visiting Little East Conference foe University of Southern Maine Wednesday afternoon at the UMB Softball Field.

With the 6-1 and 3-2 victories, UMass Boston kept their Little East Conference Tournament hopes alive, moving to 13-23 overall and 4-8 in conference action. The Huskies tournament hopes were crushed for the third straight season, as they fell to 7-30 and 2-10 in Little East play.

The  pair of wins also improved UMB to 8-29 against the Huskies, with an 8-6 edge dating back to 2007. UMass Boston earned their second sweep in three years over USM behind a pair of stellar pitching performances and great days at the plate from Taryn Asta (Marshfield, Mass.) and Souza.

Asta matched her career-high for hits in a game by going 4-for-4 with an RBI and the game-winning run. Souza matched Asta with hits on the day and added two runs scored and an RBI to help the Beacons even their home record at 6-6. 

Game One: UMass Boston 6, Southern Maine 1

Wednesday's first game should have been every bit the pitcher's duel that the nightcap was, if not for five Southern Maine errors.

The Beacons turned the five USM miscues into five unearned runs and cruised to a 6-1 win behind freshman starter Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.). Gray allowed just four hits and one run over seven innings work, while striking out four.

At the plate, Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) and Kristina Bove (Medford, Mass.) each finished with two RBI apiece, while Killilea continued to reset the Beacons and national record books. Killilea's leadoff triple in the first inning moved her into a tie for eight place in Division III history with 31 career triples. The senior also added two RBI, to assume sole possession of first place in UMB history with 89 RBI for her career.

Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.), Kelsey Svenson (Oxford, Conn.) joined Souza and Killilea with one hit apiece. Capra added a team-high two runs scored in three trips to the plate.

For Southern Maine, senior Jesse Hutchins took the loss, despite allowing only four hits and one earned run over six innings. Catcher Jessica Hayden led the squad with two of her team-high four hits on the day.

UMass Boston took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Killilea sent a triple into the left field corner and came into score on an RBI groundout from Asta. 

The Beacons piled on three unearned runs in the third on one hit and two errors and added two more runs on two more Huskies errors in the fourth.

Southern Maine struck for their only run of the game in the fifth inning, when Cara Radino led off with a double to right and scampered home on Lindsey Somerset's RBI single through the left side.

Gray would take over from there-retiring eight of the final nine Huskies she faced.

Game Two: UMass Boston 3, Southern Maine 2 (8 Innings)

The nightcap proved to be a much more even contest as the Huskies played with their playoff hopes on the line. Pitcher Michelle Zullo (Everett, Mass.) and Stefanie Stockwell went pitch for pitch, as the two teams traded three leads, before UMass Boston earned their first extra-innings win of the season. 

Asta led off the bottom of the eight for UMB with a blooper on the infield dirt that fell just behind third baseman Katie Davis to put a runner on first with no outs. After back-to-back outs moved Asta to second base, Souza crushed a single up the middle that easily scored Asta and sent her teammates piling out of the dugout. 

The pair of seniors were the stars of game two for UMB, as Asta finished 4-for-4 with a run and an RBI and Souza ended the game 3-for-4 with a run and RBI as well. 

On the mound, Zullo struck out a season-high eight batters, while scattering six hits and two runs over the course of eight innings. After retiring the first nine batters she faced, Zullo stranded two runners in the sixth and a runner on third in the eight, to come away with her sixth win of the year.

Stockwell was the tough-luck loser for USM, allowing three runs and 10 hits over 7.2 innings pitched.  

She was helped out offensively by Hayden who finished 2-for-4 with a two-run homer that gave Southern Maine it's only lead of the day.

The Beacons took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning when Killilea struck for her second extra-base hit of the day (a double) and came into score on a two-out single to left field off the bat of Asta. 

Southern Maine answered right back in the fourth, as Stockwell broke up Zullo's perfect game bid with a leadoff single and came around to score on Hayden's second homer of the season, a two-run shot to left field.

Playing from behind for the first time all day, UMB quickly evened the score at 2-2. Souza singled up the middle with one out, moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt and came in to score on a Capra RBI single.

From that point on the two teams would trade zeros over the final three innings, as both pitchers left three runners on base. 

The Huskies put two runners on in the top of the sixth, only to have Zullo force an inning-ending groundout to second. While Stockwell allowed two runners to reach in the bottom half of the inning, before inducing an inning-ending popout.

Southern Maine looked primed to go ahead in the top of the eight before Zullo put together her most impressive pitches of the outing. Stockwell led off with a double to left-center and moved over to third with one out on a sacrifice bunt. With the team's top two run producers stepping up, Zullo promptly struck out Hayden swingin and forced Davis to ground out to end the inning.

Asta and Souza would perform their theatrics in the bottom half of the inning, to give UMass Boston their fourth doubleheader sweep of the year.

UMass Boston will return to action Thursday when they host Salem State University in a non-conference doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. The Huskies will play host to LEC rival UMass Dartmouth Saturday at 1 p.m. in their regular-season finale.