WINTER HAVEN, Fla. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University softball team scored 11 runs in its final two at-bats – breaking an eighth-inning tie by scoring five times on one hit – in a 13-8, eight-inning victory over the University of New England Thursday afternoon at Diamondplex
New England (4-3) forced extra innings by scoring two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but freshman Brooke Matyasovsky (Orange) capped a five-run outburst in the top of the eighth inning with a three-run home run – Eastern's (6-2) only hit of the inning. A sacrifice bunt, two infield errors and a hit batter contributed.
In the morning game, sophomore righty Morgan Bolduk (Vernon) pitched her fourth complete game in as many starts, allowing four hits and no walks with six strikeouts in a 6-2 victory over Wheaton College (MA). The Warriors scored in each of the first four innings, including twice in the third after there were two out and none on to move out to a 5-2 lead. Senior Jackie Lewis (Waterford) and freshman Grace Leone (Brick, NJ) each drove in runs with singles in that inning. Freshman Julia SanGiovanni (East Haven) cracked her second career home run in the fourth after there were two out and none on to round out the scoring. Wheaton is 5-4.
Bolduk (5-0) was credited with the second-game win after she allowed two unearned runs on two hits and an infield error in the bottom of the seventh after being called upon to protect an 8-6 lead created after the Warriors had rallied for six runs on five hits to erase a 6-4 deficit in the top of the seventh.
Leading 3-2, UNE tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the sixth – chasing sophomore lefty starter Morgan Sanson (Thomaston) in the process – to carry a 6-2 lead into the seventh. Limited to three hits through six innings by UNE starter Sydnee Bessler, Eastern exploded for six runs on five hits to take an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the seventh. The first seven batters reached safely in that six-run seventh, with six of them scoring.
Pinch hitters Christine Guyette (Mansfield) and Kamdynn Moroney (Sandy Hook) got things going in the seventh with a pinch double and walk, respectively. Pinch runner Calli Duthrieth (Griswold) scored the first run on No. 9 hitter Sabrina LeMere's (North Branford) single to right. After sophomore Alexis Tyrrell (Torrington) walked to load the bases, the next four batters drove in runs: Lewis drove in a run when she singled on the first pitch she saw, SanGiovanni plated two with a single, Matyasovsky followed with a tie-breaking run-scoring double with none out to chase Bessler. Pinch running, Leone then legged it home from third on Kat Devolve's (Plainfield) fly ball to deep shortstop to make it 8-6.
Bolduk closed out the win in the eighth with the help of an infield double play started by SanGiovanni at short.
The contest was the first between the programs in 23 seasons. Against Eastern, the Nor'easters were bidding for their fourth straight win over a member of the Little East Conference, having shut out UMass Dartmouth (5-0) Monday and Wednesday defeating Plymouth State (6-2 in eight innings) and UMass Boston (1-0), last year's LEC tournament finalists.
At right: Grace Leone
For much of the game behind Bessler, UNE appeared on its way to a fifth straight win after two opening losses and another victory over an LEC opponent. The righty held Eastern at bay with a fastball and effective changeup and brought a 6-2 lead into the seventh. Bessler did not allow a hit through the first four innings and only three in total through six innings. Eastern had taken a 1-0 lead without a hit in the first when Tyrrell reached on a wild pitch while striking out, and came home on a throwing error on Lewis' sacrifice bunt. Trailing 3-1, the Warriors cut it to one with a run in the fifth on Crysta Wolsky's (West Hartford) one-out single and LeMere's double to right which allowed freshman pinch runner Laura Zenk (Hermon, ME) to score from first. After walking Tyrrell, Bessler avoided further damage with two infield popups, the first on an attempted bunt.
Against UNE – in a game where 20 of 21 roster players saw action -- LeMere and Tyrrell both scored twice, with nine additional players also crossing the plate. LeMere and Matyasovsky each had two hits, and leadoff hitter Tyrrell reached three times with two walks and on a game-opening strikeout and wild pitch.
Leone, a catcher, had three hits and drove in a run against Wheaton and Matyasovsky added two hits. Six different players scored runs.
On the day, ten players contributed at least one hit, 14 scored a run and six drove in at least one.
In two games, Leone was 3-for-3 with a run and RBI and handled seven chances defensively without an error; LeMere was 3-for-6 with two runs and two RBI; Matyasovsky 4-for-9 with four RBI and a run, double and home run; Devolve 2-for-5 with three RBI, two walks and a run scored; and SanGiovanni 2-for-6 with three RBI, two runs and a home run.
The Warriors close out the trip Friday with single games against College of Wooster (12:15 p.m.) and Carnegie Mellon (2:30 p.m.) at Winter Haven and are scheduled to kick off the northern, home and Little East Conference schedules a week from Saturday against the University of Southern Maine at 1 p.m. at Clyde Washburne Field.