NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 4, 2012) – Despite holding a two-run lead in game one and a three-run advantage in the nightcap, the ETSU softball team was unable to come away with a conference win over Belmont on Friday night from E.S. Rose Park in Nashville.
Belmont scored five unanswered runs in game one to rally past the Blue and Gold, 5-2, while the Bruins capped off the sweep by scoring three runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth to keep their Atlantic Sun Tournament hopes still alive with the 6-3 victory in game two.
Following the sweep, the Bucs have now suffered six straight setbacks as ETSU dropped to 11-36, 1-15, while Belmont improved to 13-34, 7-9.
In game one, the Bucs missed out on taking an early lead when Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) led off the game with a single to left, but with two outs and the junior outfielder on first, red-shirt freshman Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) hit a fly to left; however, after Amanda Criscione had the ball hit off her glove, Hartnett was gunned down at the plate as she tried to score on the play to end the inning.
The Bruins threatened in the bottom half of the first when Heather Turner laced a two-out triple to the gap in right-center, but following a walk to Ashley Byers, Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) induced Stayci Cook into an inning-ending ground out to short.
After being held without a hit since Hartnett’s single to start the game, the Bucs strung together three consecutive singles in the fourth and capitalized on a throwing error by Criscione in left to take a 2-0 lead. Horner began the hit parade with a one-out single to center and moved to second on Wolff’s single up the middle. From there, Sade Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga.) entered as a pinch-runner for Horner and scored the first run when Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) recorded the third consecutive single to left, as Johnson came in on Criscione’s errant throw to the plate. Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) drove in the second run when her sac-fly to left plated Wolff – giving the Bucs the two-run advantage.
Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long as Belmont pushed across three runs in the bottom of the fourth to pull ahead, 3-2. The Bruins received some clutch two-out hitting as Cook began the rally with a single to left and came home on Kat Hollingsworth’s triple to right, while Hollingsworth scored the tying run on Ashley Hammer’s RBI single to left. The timely hitting continued when Kim Johnson doubled to left-center, which allowed Hammer to score all the way from first, but Johnson was tagged out at third to end the inning as she tried to extend the two-bagger into a triple.
Belmont extended its lead in the fifth when Courtney Elrod connected on her first home run of the season to lead off the inning and Mia Vierra scored on an error by Hartnett in left – making it a 5-2 game.
The Blue and Gold had no answer after the five unanswered runs came across the dish, as Belmont walked away with the three-run conference win.
Vierra earned the win (9-15) after allowing two runs (one earned) on six hits in the complete game effort, while Wolff suffered the loss (5-18) as she was charged with five runs (four earned) on eight hits in six innings of work.
At the plate, six different ETSU players registered a hit, while Lower recorded the lone RBI for the Bucs with her sac-fly in the fourth.
Just like in game one, the Bucs grabbed the early lead in game two when junior Mikayla Treadway (Unicoi, Tenn.) came through with a clutch two-out, two-RBI single to right-center in the second inning to put the Blue and Gold ahead, 2-0.
With senior righty Shelby Morris (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.) keeping Belmont scoreless through the first three innings, the Bucs capitalized on an extra out to make it 3-0 in the top of the fourth. After Amy Campbell (Chattanooga, Tenn.) reached via an error on a sac-bunt and moved to second on the play, she came in to score on Hartnett’s two-out RBI infield single.
However, déjà vu occurred in the bottom of the fourth as Belmont scored three runs on only one hit in the frame to pull even at three.
In game one, Belmont pushed three runs across the dish in the fourth as Hollingsworth drove in two with a triple to right-center, and yet again, the Bruin right fielder came through with a two-RBI triple to left-center, while she crossed the plate on a passed ball by catcher Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) for the tying run.
The Bruins put the go-ahead runs on the board in the fifth when Byers belted a two-out, two-run home run to left-center, while Belmont finished off its scoring in the sixth when Hollingsworth posted her second triple of the game and scored on Hammer’s single to left-center – making it a 6-3 contest.
Once again the Bucs couldn’t respond in the late innings after Belmont's attack, as Vierra went the distance in both games on Friday to sweep the Blue and Gold.
Vierra secured her 10th win of the season after issuing three runs (two earned) on six hits in seven innings, and Morris was dealt the loss (2-15) as she surrendered six runs (five earned) on five hits in six-plus innings of action.
Six different Buccaneer batters recorded a hit again in the nightcap, while Treadway (two RBIs) and Hartnett (one RBI) accounted for the scoring plays.
The Bucs close out their 2012 season on Saturday when ETSU takes on Lipscomb Saturday evening from Draper Diamond. First pitch of the A-Sun doubleheader is slated for 7 p.m. Eastern.
For more information on Buccaneer softball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.