May 16, 2017
Box Score | PDF : Murray St 7,, MSU 6 (9)
Murray State rallied from a 6-0 deficit to score a 7-6 win in the ninth inning in the opening game of the National Softball Invitational Championship (NISC) .
The winning run in the bottom of the ninth came around when leadoff Jessica Twaddle reached on an error, went to second on a sac bunt, to third on a fly ball to right, and came home on a wild pitch.
MSU played three previous extra-inning games this season, all in Big Ten play - MSU dropped games to Purdue (4-3) and Illinois (6-5) , and beat Rutgers (4-2) in its most recent extra-inning affair on April 28.
The Spartans used a pair of longballs to establish an early lead - Lexi White hit a two-run shot to left in the top of the second inning, and Kelcey Carrasco hit a solo shot in the third - to make it 3-0 in favor of MSU. Later in the third, the Spartans continued their two-out rally, getting two runs across on an RBI single by Sarah Gutknecht, then got a sixth run on the scoreboard on a passed ball.
Murray State got on the scoreboard in the third when leadoff hitter Brenna Finck hit her third homer of the season, manufactured a run in the fourth, and got a two-run shot from Jessica Twaddle in the bottom of the fifth to cut the deficit to 6-4. The Racers then rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh on a Twaddle RBI single and a Spartan error.
Brenna Finck was 4-for-5 for the Racers on the day, while Twaddle was 2-for-5 with three RBI, and scored the winning run.
For MSU, both Lea Foerster and Kelcey Carrasco went 2-for-5 in the contest, with Carrasco hitting her 10th home run of the season - the first freshman in program history to reach double-digit home runs. The Spartans committed two errors - one each in the seventh and ninth innings that aided the Racer comeback.
Kristina Zalewski earned the start - her fourth consecutive - and after leaving with a 6-1 lead after three innings, returned to throw in the bottom of the sixth with MSU holding onto a 6-4 lead. She went 6.2 innings in total, allowing four runs (two earned), striking out four in taking the loss.
The Spartans will play again on Wednesday at 1 pm CT (2 pm ET). Their opponent will be either Illinois State or IUPUI.
Lea Foerster and Kelcey Carrasco both went 2-for-5, with Carrasco hitting her 10th home run.
Sarah Gutknecht had a pair of RBI.
Kristina Zalewski pitched 6.2 innings, striking out four and allowing four runs (two earned). She started the game and went three innings, then returned in the sixth.
STATS AND STORYLINES
Ebonee Echols led off the second inning with a single, and advanced on a two-base error to put her on third base with Lexi White at the plate. White deposited a 2-0 pitch into deep left for her ninth homer of the season.
Kelcey Carrasco hit her 10th homer of the season to dead center with two out in the third inning to push the Spartans to a 3-0 lead. Kaitlyn Eveland and Echols followed with singles, and pitcher Mason Robinson walked Lexi White to load the bases. Sarah Gutknecht singled through the right side to bring home two more runs, making it a 5-0 game with runners at the corners. The Racers made a pitching change, bringing on Haven Campbell. Camblell started off her outing by hitting pinch hitter Jordan Davis, and a wild pitch to Melanie Baccay brought home Lexi White for a 6-0 Spartan lead.
Leadoff hitter Brenna Finck hit her third homer of the season hit an opposite-field solo shot in the bottom of the third inning, cutting into the Spartan lead.
MSU made its pitching change in the fourth inning, bringing on Bridgette Rainey. Zalewski went three innings, striking out one and allowing just one run on three hits before returning in the sixth inning. Jordan Watson pitched the fifth inning , allowing two hits and two runs.
Facing a new pitcher, the Racers put a second run on the board in the fourth inning after a walk, hit batter, and RBI single by Madison Culver. Murray State went to pinch hitter Lexi Jones with two on and two out, but her liner was snagged by Eveland at third to end the inning.
Jordan Watson entered the game for MSU in the bottom of the fifth inning, and gave up a one-out double to Kaylee Ranburger, and Jessica Twaddle followed with a two-run homer to left that cut the MSU lead to 6-4.
Zalewski faced the top of the order in the seventh, and Finck led off with a little bloop double just inside the foul line past third base. A one-out single by Twaddle brought home Finck from second to trim it to 6-5, A grounder to first by Joscelyn Rodgers was the second out of the inning, and left Twaddle at second base for Taylor Odom. Odom hit it down the left field line, and it was snagged by Kaitlyn Eveland - but an errant throw allowed the tying run to score and left the winning run on second base. Cayla Levins drew a walk, but Zalewski got a liner to third that was snagged by Eveland for the final out of the inning.
In the eighth, McKenzie Long hauled in an impressive catch in shallow left, over her shoulder, for the first out of the inning. Zalewski sent down Mallory Young looking at a called third strike, bringing up the top of the order. She got a quick 0-2 count on Finck, but the next pitch was sent back up the left side just out of the reach of a leaping Long. Ranberger came to the plate and worked a 2-2 count, at which point Finck stole second to get into scoring position; Zalewski got Ranburger swinging to end the inning.
In the ninth, Kelcey Carrasco was the leadoff hitter, went down 0-2, then laced a 2-2 pitch into left center for a leadoff single. Eveland laid down a nice bunt to advance pinch runner Summer Callahan, who advanced all the way to third as the throw to first bounced out of the glove of first baseman Twaddle. Pitcher Haven Campbell retired the next three Spartans in order to keep MSU off the board.
In the home half of the ninth, Twaddle led off by reaching on an error and moved to second on a sacrifice by Rodgers. A long shot to right by Odom moved the runner to third with two out for Levins. A wild pitch brought home Twaddle from third with the winning run.
White's second-inning homer was her ninth of the season, which is tied for 12th in a single season at MSU.
Carrasco became the first freshman in school history with 10 home runs with her third-inning homer. Ten homers is tied for seventh in a season in school history.