GORHAM, Maine—UMass Boston softball rallied for six runs in the final three innings and got clutch relief pitching, to earn a key Little East Conference doubleheader split at the University of Southern Maine on Friday afternoon.
Southern Maine 7, UMass Boston 2
UMass Boston 8, Southern Maine 7
(UMass Boston 22-9, Little East 7-5)
(Southern Maine 13-14, Little East 5-5)
HOW IT HAPPENED
After dropping game one and finding themselves down 5-2 through four innings in game two, UMass Boston struck for four runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth inning, to steal game two.
Freshman Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) led the offensive charge with a 4-4 game and an RBI and run scored. Senior Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) added a two-run homer and two runs scored, with her first-inning home run setting the program record for career home runs (12).
The Beacons used all three pitchers in the contest to salvage a must-win game two. Annie Thomas (Lunenburg, Mass.) came on in relief and shut the Huskies down for her opening two innings and allowed just two runs in 3.1 innings-to earn her first conference win. Freshman Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) closed it out, as the freshman recorded her program record second save, by retiring the two batters she faced, with two runners aboard.
Southern Maine blew open a 1-1 tie with a four-run fifth inning, to earn a 7-2 victory in Friday's opener.
Freshman Giovanna Bonilla (Queens, N.Y.) was the lone bright spot offensively for UMass Boston. The center fielder had her first career two-hit game (2-3) and added an RBI single to tie the game at 1.
In the circle, Greenspan was victimized by some seeing-eye hits, as she allowed nine hits and seven runs, six earned in six innings. She walked a season-high six batters in the loss.
Southern Maine freshman Madison Greene limited the Beacons to seven hits and two runs-to improve to 5-1.
After Southern Maine took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, the Beacons answered right back in the next frame.
Tulley led off with a single and reached third base when the Huskies threw away Angelina Avitabile's (Holbrook, Mass.) sacrifice bunt. Bonilla tied the game at 1-1 when she ripped an RBI single past the first baseman. The Beacons couldn't add to their lead though, as Avitabile was stranded at third, after getting there with no outs.
The Huskies used four hits, two walks and a sacrifice fly to grab a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth.
Bilotta cut the deficit to 5-2 in the sixth, when she ripped a single up the middle to score Morse, but that would be as close as the Beacons would get.
Game two looked like it would follow a similar trend, as the Huskies scored four in the bottom of the first and another in the second to grab a 5-2 edge. With their backs against the wall, UMass Boston took advantage of the Huskies' six errors to come away with the 8-7 win.
UMass Boston doubled their hit total in game two, with Bilotta (four hits), Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) and Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) each recording multiple hits. Prusmack added two runs scored, while Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.), Lauren Mitsiaris (Taunton, Mass.), Pawlina, Tulley and Bilotta each had at least one RBI.
Megan Hoben (Bedford, Mass.) got the start in game two, but lasted just three innings, after allowing four hits and five earned runs and issuing six walks. Thomas and Greenspan combined for the final four innings and limited Southern Maine to five hits and two runs.
Allison Pilar carried the Huskies offense in game two, as the senior went off for three hits, including two doubles, one run scored, and five RBI.
Amber Kelly took the loss for the Huskies. She allowed seven hits and four runs, two earned, in the opening four innings.
The Beacons took the lead just four batters into game two. Vento singled to right field with two down and Raczkowski blasted a homer over the left field fence to set the Beacons program record for homers (12).
Southern Maine struck back with four runs in the bottom of the first on two doubles, two walks and a single. Pillar tied the game with a one-out double and Brook Cross followed with an RBI double and a run scored.
Pillar made it 5-2 in the second, when the first baseman drove in Samantha Crosman with a two-out RBI single.
After managing just two hits from the second to the fourth, UMass Boston took the lead back with a huge fifth inning.
Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) led off with a single and moved to third on a Prusmack single and a throwing error. With one down, Braga scampered home after the Huskies' catcher threw the ball away on a failed pickoff. The Beacons cut the deficit to 5-4 on the next batter, as the first baseman threw the ball away to allow Prusmack to score.
With two down and the bases loaded, Tulley and Mitsiaris hit back-to-back RBI singles to score Chaislyn Burgio (Quincy, Mass.) and Bilotta to make it 6-5 Beacons.
Cross led off the bottom of the fifth with a double, but Thomas escaped unscathed, thanks to three-straight strong defensive plays.
UMass Boston tacked on two huge insurance runs in the sixth. Prusmack led off with a single, stole second and took third on an error that allowed Morse to reach. The Huskies turned a double play and had a chance to get out the jam, but the catcher dropped a foul pop with two outs.
After Raczkowski walked to put runners on the corners, Bilotta and Pawlina made Southern Maine pay with back-to-back RBI singles.
Pillar got Southern Maine back into the game in the bottom of the sixth, as her two-run double to the wall made it 8-7 with two outs.
In the seventh inning, Thomas got the first hitter, but then allowed back-to-back singles to put the winning run on first with one out. Greenspan came on in relief and got the lead runner on a grounder back to the mound for the second out. With two on and two outs, Greenspan induced a grounder to third and the Beacons escaped Maine with a split.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Raczkowski now is the program record holder for career doubles (39) and home runs (12). She had been tied with Amanda Perry ('11) who hit 11 home runs in her lone season with the Beacons.
- Greenspan is the only player in program history to be credited with multiple saves in a single-season or in a career. She has made just six appearances in relief this year, and picked up a save against Lasell College in Florida.
- With their game-two victory, UMass Boston snapped a five-game losing streak against the Huskies and improved to 11-34 all-time against Southern Maine.
- Six of UMass Boston's eight runs in game two came with two outs.
- With their split today, UMass Boston sits tied for first in the LEC for wins with seven, but tied for third in losses with five. The Beacons sit behind Western Connecticut State University (7-3) and Eastern Connecticut State University (6-4) who each have two doubleheaders left, including a DH against each other on Sunday at Western Connecticut State.
UMass Boston will host defending LEC Tournament Champion Western Connecticut State University on Saturday for Senior Day. After the conclusion of Saturday's doubleheader, UMass Boston will honor Morse, Raczkowski and Mitsiaris.