LEESBURG, Fla.—After trailing 5-1 through four innings, UMass Boston rallied for a thrilling, extra-inning rally, to finish their Florida trip on a high note Friday afternoon at the Sleepy Hollow Complex.
Kalamazoo College 8, UMass Boston 0
UMass Boston 7, Wesleyan University (Conn.) 5 (8 Innings)
(UMass Boston 8-2)
(Kalamazoo College 4-4)
(Wesleyan University 1-3)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Things looked bleak to start the day, as the Hornets of Kalamazoo College blanked the Beacons 8-0.
The malaise carried over into game two, with Wesleyan University leaping out to a 5-1 advantage. UMass Boston roared back though with three runs in the fifth and the tying run in the seventh. In extras, seniors Kaitlyn "KMO" Morse (Arlington, Mass.) and Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) capped off their Florida careers with RBI hits to give the Beacons the win.
Fresh off a win earlier this morning, Kalamazoo scored four runs in the top of the first, and three more in the fourth inning, to power past the Beacons 8-0.
Sophomores Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) and Alyssa Tulley (Lowell, Mass.) and freshman Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) each recorded two hits in the loss. Braga and Pawlina also added a double apiece for UMass Boston.
In the circle, freshman Megan Hoben (Bedford, Mass.) took her first loss of the season after allowing eight hits and six earned runs. Sophomore Annie Thomas (Lunenburg, Mass.) came on in relief and limited the Hornets to three hits and one earned run in three innings of work.
Kalamazoo catcher Hayleigh Alamo paced the Michigan side with a 4-for-4 game, with two runs scored and three RBI. Designated player Nori Seita added a two-run homer for the visitors.
Erin DuRoss improved to 3-0 on the year. She threw a complete-game, eight-hit shutout, in which she struck out four and walked one.
With one out and two runners in scoring position in the top of the first, Alamo drilled a double to right-center field to score two runners. Seita followed with a two-run homer to give Kalamazoo a 4-0 lead.
The visitors would add three more runs in the top of the fourth thanks to a DuRoss sacrifice fly and an infield RBI single from Alamo-that scored two on a Beacons' error.
UMass Boston put together their best scoring chance in the bottom of the inning. With two outs and Braga on second, Raczkowski singled and Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) walked to load the bases. DuRoss induced a pop up to the catcher to get out of the jam.
The Beacons would continue to threaten in the fifth and sixth, but ended up leaving six of their 10 left on base in those two innings.
UMass Boston's late comeback served as a fitting end to the trip, as the Beacons used a total-team effort to earn their fifth comeback win in 10 games.
The Beacons scored six of their runs in the final four frames-in large part thanks to their upperclassmen.
Sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) opened the scoring with her first home run of the season and Pawlina added a two-run double to cut the deficit to 5-3.
Bilotta worked a walk with one out in the top of the seventh and raced all the way home to tie the game on a Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) single and a Wesleyan throwing error.
In the eight, Morse drove in Tulley with an infield single with two down, and then raced home from second on Raczkowski's RBI double.
Vento paced the Beacons with three hits, while Pawlina finished 2-4 with a pair of RBI. Morse had two hits and two runs of her own, while producing the game-winning RBI. Prusmack added on two hits and an RBI of her own, while Bilotta crossed the plate twice.
Freshman Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) was the unsung hero of the game. She went the final 6.1 innings in scoreless relief and allowed just four hits and two walks, while keeping the Cardinals stuck on five runs. She replaced Thomas, who gave up eight hits and five runs in the opening 1.2 innings.
Wesleyan starter Julie McDonald threw the opening seven innings and allowed all five runs, but only one was earned. Third baseman Rachel Kantor came on in the eighth and gave up three hits and two runs, one earned, to fall to 0-2.
With the bases loaded and two down in the top of the first, Prusmack gave the Beacons their first and only lead in the opening seven innings, with an RBI single to score Morse.
Jenna Putala answered right back for the Cardinals, as she hit a grounder up the middle that scored Izzy Liner in the bottom of the first.
The Cardinals bats piled on four more runs in the bottom of the second. They used an RBI single, a two-run triple and an RBI single to push the lead to 5-1. Greenspan came on with two down and two runners in scoring position and promptly struck out the first batter she faced to get out of the inning.
UMass Boston's bats came alive in support of Greenspan in the fifth. Vento drilled a homer over the right-field fence to cut the deficit to 5-2. Raczkowski reached on an error and Bilotta earned a walk to put two on with one out. After a strikeout, Pawlina lined a ball to the right-center field fence to score both runners and put the pressure on Wesleyan.
The Beacons evened the score in the seventh. With one out and trailing by one, Bilotta worked a walk. Prusmack followed with a slap to the third baseman that she beat out for a single. The third baseman's throw bounced past the first baseman and into foul territory, and Bilotta raced all the way around to tie the game. With Prusmack on third, the Beacons attempted a suicide squeeze. The Cardinals were alert to the play and just barely threw out Prusmack at home to keep the game at 5-5.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, UMass Boston took the lead for good in the top of the eighth.
With Tulley on second to start the inning, Kayla Harris (Cumberland, Maine) moved Tulley up with a sacrifice bunt to start the inning. The Cardinals got a strikeout for the second out, but Morse hit a soft grounder up the middle for an RBI single. After a Vento single pushed Morse up to second, Raczkowski hit an RBI double down the left-field line for a huge insurance run.
Needing to score two runs in the bottom of the eighth, the Cardinals couldn't get anything going against Greenspan. The Connecticut native forced a pair of fly outs and a grounder to cap off the most successful Spring Break trip in program history.
BY THE NUMBERS
- UMass Boston stayed perfect against Wesleyan with their fourth win in four tries against the Cardinals. All four games between the two New England sides have come in Florida. Thursday's game marked the first-ever meeting between UMass Boston and Kalamazoo College.
- Pawlina finished 4-for-7 on the day with two doubles and two RBI.
- The Beacons went 6-0 against New England competition during the trip, including 3-0 against the prestigious New England Small Collegiate Athletic Conference (Wesleyan, Trinity and Hamilton).
- Greenspan improved to 4-1 with a save in six appearances, and lowered her earned run average to 1.68 in 33.1 innings.
- Nine players finished with a batting average over .300 in Florida, with three hitting .429 or better.
- UMass Boston's extra-inning victory marked their first since a 4-3 win, nine-inning win over Curry College on April 14, 2016.
- The Beacons hit four home runs in 10 games in Florida. UMass Boston ended last season with eight home runs in 41 games.
UMass Boston will fly back to Boston on Friday afternoon. The Beacons are scheduled to travel to take on Bridgewater State University on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. for a doubleheader.