02/24/06 — Thomas, Whaley spark late-inning uprising for MOC

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Thomas, Whaley spark late-inning uprising for MOC

Published in Sports on February 24, 2006 2:19 PM

Colleen Thomas doubled home the tying run with none out in the bottom of the 10th inning and scored the game-winner on Morgan Whaley's double one out later to lead Mount Olive to a come-from-behind 8-7 victory over Bluefield State in non-conference NCAA II softball Thursday at Nancy Chapman Cassell Field.

The game lasted just over three hours as the Trojans rallied from one-run deficits in the seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th innings.

The start time for the doubleheader was moved back three hours to 5 p.m. due to overnight and morning rain. Temperatures dipped into the low 40s as most of game one and all of the second game were played under the lights.

Both teams entered Thursday's games undefeated.

In the first game, Mount Olive (7-0) spotted Bluefield State three runs in the top of the first, then tied the game with three in the bottom of the inning. Tiffanie Pittman led off the inning with a double and went on to score the Trojan's first run. Rigil Gruca capped the inning with an RBI double.

Bluefield State (4-2) took the early lead as Nicole Hall's RBI double highlighted a three-run first inning. The Lady Blues had a chance for a fourth run, but Trojan right fielder Erin Wilson threw a runner out at the plate to end the inning.

The game remained tied until the top of the fourth when Connie McNeil led off with a double and eventually scored from third on a double steal to give Bluefield State a 4-3 lead.

Trojan starter Krystal Bourne escaped jams in the fifth and sixth innings as Bluefield State put runners on third in both innings. Bourne struck out six in 71/3 innings pitched.

Bluefield State starting pitcher Katie Kelly retired 12 of 13 batters after the first inning before Karen Thornton led off the bottom of the sixth with a pinch-hit infield single and Whaley reached on a fielder's choice. But Kelly got out of the inning on a line out, a fielder's choice and a strikeout.

In the top of the seventh, Wilson made another defensive play to keep the Trojans within a run, backing up centerfielder Pittman, who made a diving attempt on Hall's sinking line drive. Wilson threw Hall out at second when she tried for a double.

Pinch-hitter Kat Cahoon reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the second, moved to second on Wilson's sacrifice and scored the tying run on Pittman's RBI single to right to force extra innings. Bluefield State third baseman Callie Shamblin kept her team in the game when she snagged a line drive to rob Thomas of a potential game-winning hit.

Bluefield State regained the lead in the top of the eighth on a bases-loaded fielder's choice off of relief pitcher Christine Ermer. But Ermer (1-0) got out of the jam on a pop out and a strikeout.

Mount Olive tied the game in the bottom of the eighth as tie-breaker runner Melissa Bright moved to third on a sacrifice and beat the throw to the plate on Georgette Richardson's sacrifice fly.

Bluefield State took the lead again on Ali Lopez's two-out pinch-hit RBI single, but the Trojans tied the game 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth when Ermer scored on a wild pitch with two outs.

Brandi Hankins' RBI single with two outs in the top of the 10th put Bluefield State on top again, setting the stage for Mount Olive's comeback.

With Pittman on second, Thomas lined a double to left center to tie the game. One out later, Whaley drove the ball over the head of the centerfielder and Thomas scored the game-winner to end the marathon.

The win was the first collegiate victory for the freshman Ermer. Kelly (1-1) went the distance for Bluefield State, striking out five and walking one.

In the second game, Mount Olive broke a 1-1 tie with a four-run fourth inning as Richardson led off with a towering double to left-center that came within inches of clearing the fence. Wilson and Pittman connected on RBI singles in the inning as the Trojans capitalized on two Bluefield State errors.

Wilson had tied the game for Mount Olive in the bottom of the second when her two-out triple to right scored Gruca from first. The Trojan defense provided a spark in the top of the fourth when Pruitt threw Ali Lopez out at the plate after Lopez led off the inning with a triple.

The Trojans sealed the win with five runs in the bottom of the fifth as Richardson doubled home a run, Pruitt singled home a run and Kensie Cobb scored on an error to extend Mount Olive's lead to 8-2. The Trojans scored their final two runs when Pittman's ground ball up the middle was misplayed and the game ended with a run-rule victory for MOC.

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