Bucs rally for six in last of game one, Cowart homers twice including walk-off
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (April 2, 2013) – The ETSU softball team has had a knack to comeback late in ball games during the 2013 campaign.
No effort was more impressive than Tuesday’s, as the Buccaneers rallied for six runs in their last turn at-bat to tie Tennessee Tech (13-16, 3-4 OVC) before freshman Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) hit a walk-off home run in the eighth to complete the comeback, 9-7. The momentum carried into game two where Cowart homered again and ETSU (10-21, 0-11 A-Sun) took a late lead and held on, 6-5, for the sweep.
Cowart finished the day 4-for-7 at the plate with four runs and four RBIs, including the two deep shots. Her second homer came during the second inning of game two in her first at-bat since the walk-off.
“This is a resilient bunch and they’ve shown it time and time again,” ETSU head coach Brad Irwin said. “This team takes the old saying ‘hitting is contagious’ to heart. As soon as we get a couple we really jump on it and I’m proud of them for that.
“Katie [Wolff] pitched well enough to keep us in the first game. She kept us hanging around late after giving up a few early and Bethany had some big hits. The second game was a test of perseverance. We got up and Tennessee Tech came back, but we just found a way to keep getting runners on and get them in.”
Junior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) went the distance for her eighth consecutive start, pitching eight innings in the opener and striking out seven while walking four. Wolff was charged with just four earned runs of the seven that crossed and earned the win to move to 4-11 with a 2.63 ERA. Wolff’s bat lit up Tuesday as well, going 4-for-7 with a double, run and two RBIs.
Junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) had a good day at the plate, totaling three hits, including her seventh double, a run and two driven in. The double came with two outs in the seventh inning of game one to bring across the fifth and sixth runs of the frame and tie the game.
The Bucs are back in action on Friday, opening a three-game, Atlantic Sun set at Betty Basler Field against Lipscomb.
Game 1 Recap: ETSU 9 – Tennessee Tech 7
Heading into the final inning, ETSU had just three hits and one run to trail Tennessee Tech, 7-1. Ten Bucs then came to bat in the seventh to score six runs and level the score. After Wolff held the Golden Eagles down in the eighth, Cowart launched the game-winning, two-run homer to complete an unbelievable win.
The first four Buccaneers reached base safely in the seventh to bring in the first run. Wolff got it started with a single and a throwing error on a ground ball off the bat of Alex Everett (Soddy Daisy, Tenn.) put two on. Cowart singled to load the bases and sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) brought in the first run with a single to left on a 2-1 pitch.
Senior Sam Lower (Sebring, Fla.) then stepped up with the bases still loaded and produced another run with a groundout to the right side, advancing Cowart and Horner to second and third. Senior catcher Whitley Hensley (Erwin, Tenn.) kept it going with a single up the middle to score Cowart and bring the tying run to the plate.
Tennessee Tech coach Bonnie Bynum had seen enough and reentered her starting pitcher, Taylor Ketchum, who had been relieved for by Hannah Weaver with Tech leading by six in the sixth.
It was too little, too late. Senior Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.) generated ETSU’s second productive out of the inning with a sac fly to left and redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.) used her speed to force Tech’s second error of the inning. Baird came to bat and belted the second pitch she saw to left-center field, bringing home the tying runs.
The international tiebreak rules were put into effect for the extras, placing TTU’s Angi Sakamoto on second to start the inning. She was sacrificed over on the first pitch, but Wolff got Hannah Eldridge to pop up and Madison Taylor down swinging for her seventh and final strikeout of the game.
Sophomore Lily Robins (Collierville, Tenn.) represented the winning run in the bottom half and Everett successfully laid down the sac bunt to lead off the bottom half. It did not matter how far away Robins was as Cowart launched her second homer of the season over the left field wall.
Wolff got the well-deserved win, throwing 162 pitches in eight innings. Tech struck early on the junior, scoring two in the first on two singles and a double. It added three in the fourth with the help of two ETSU errors and tallied one in the fifth on Kendall Hooper’s leadoff homer. Christian Gibbs hit another solo homer in the sixth to put the Golden Eagles on top, 7-1.
Game 2 Recap: ETSU 6 – Tennessee Tech 5
Game two was all Bucs in the early going, riding the momentum of the comeback and jumping out to a 4-0 lead after the first three innings. The Golden Eagles regrouped and answered with the game’s next five runs to take a lead, but Lower’s single brought in the tying and go-ahead runs in the bottom of the fifth as ETSU walked away with a sweep, 6-5.
Sophomore Whitney Leon (Dandridge, Tenn.) got the starting nod in the circle and worked into the fifth inning. Leon was in control through the first three, but got into some trouble by giving up back-to-back home runs to Hooper and Olivia Bennett in the fourth. Freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) came on in relief with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fifth, limiting TTU to just two additional runs. Harrell earned the win, surrendering zero earned runs in three innings to move to 5-8.
Cowart picked up right where she left off. The Bucs took a 1-0 lead on an RBI single from Wolff in the first and Cowart led off the second with her second homer in as many at-bats. Hartnett doubled to left-center later in the inning to score freshman Sam Carpenter (Forest City, N.C.) and push the lead to three.
Cowart moved the cushion to four with another RBI on a 2-2 single up the middle to score Baird in the third.
TTU put together a comeback of its own. Hooper and Bennett cut the lead in half on their blasts in the fourth and Cortney Fry cut the deficit to one with an RBI single before the inning was over. Tech then loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth and Hooper cracked the second pitch she saw from Harrell off the center field wall to score two.
To Harrell’s credit, she got the next three Golden Eagles down without another run crossing to keep ETSU within a run.
The Bucs got it right back in the bottom half. An error put Cowart on base and Horner doubled down the left field line to put two in scoring position with one out. Lower stepped up and singled through the right side to score the tying run. An even better play followed as the senior purposely got herself caught in a rundown between first and second, allowing Horner to break for home and score what proved to be the winning run.
Harrell set down TTU in order in the sixth and allowed two walks in the seventh before getting Hooper out at third on a fielder’s choice to end the game.
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