Down to their final out, No. 6 Jumbos tie game in seventh, win in eighth
WELLESLEY, Mass. - The Tufts University softball team was hoping to rest the right arm of first-team All-America pitcher Allyson Fournier Sunday afternoon against an Eastern Connecticut State University team riding a ten-game winning streak.
At left: Christine Akcer
Choosing to start freshman Erica County in a re-match of last year's NCAA regional championship game won by Fournier and Tufts, 5-0, the No. 6-ranked Jumbos opted to turn to Fournier to keep the team close after five innings and emerged with a come-from-behind, 5-4, eight-inning triumph.
Second Game of Day
Trailing 4-0, Eastern scored three runs in the sixth but stranded the tying run on second in losing its second one-run game of the day, 4-3 to host Wellesley College.
Eastern (13-7), which lost for the first time to the Blue after four wins in this series, scored its runs on an error and three consecutive two-out RBI singles by Shannon Martin, No. 9 hitter Stephanie Johnson and Arielle Cooper. Alicia White opened the seventh inning with a single but was erased on a double play and a foul fly ended the game.
Cooper had two hits and has hit safely in 19 straight games, while Martin (3-2), the losing pitcher, also had two hits.
Wellesley (15-7) was beaten, 6-2, by Tufts in the first of the day's three games.
Junior centerfielder Mattie Brett's (Waterford) first home run of the season with one out in the fifth inning lifted Eastern (13-6) into a one-run lead before Fourier was summoned to pitch the final three shutout innings and Tufts (22-2) rallied to tie the game with a run in the top of the seventh after there were two out and none on, and scored what proved to be the winning run in the top of the eighth inning on pinch hitter Kris Parr's two-out single to center that scored freshman Christina Raso from second.
Utilizing their fourth successful sacrifice bunt of the afternoon in the bottom of the eighth, Eastern pushed the tying run to third base with one out, but the potential tying run was cut down on a throw to home from Tufts second baseman Emily Beinecke on junior pinch hitter Jen Tamindzija's (Malden, MA) ground ball.
Averaging over seven runs per game, Tufts managed only three earned runs against the Eastern pitching duo of senior starter Christine Akcer (Milford) and sophomore reliever Shannon Martin (Wethersfield). With the score tied in the fifth, Akcer surrendered three consecutive singles to open the inning, and her first wild pitch of the season scored Michelle Cooprider from third to provide Tufts with its first lead.
The Warriors re-gained the lead in the bottom of the inning when freshman DP Alicia White (Colchester) walked to get things started. Freshman pinch runner Taylor Smyth (Meriden) then stole second and with one out, Godwin circled the bases with an inside-the-park home run.
Protecting a 4-3 lead, Martin retired the first two batters in the seventh on an infield pop and strikeout, but Beinecke kept her team's chances alive with a single to left, and first baseman Kayla Holland, who had led off the fourth inning with a game-tying home run, drove in her 24th run of the season with a double to left center.
Eastern senior third baseman and leadoff hitter Arielle Cooper (Mystic) had three of Eastern's seven hits to extend her hitting streak to 18. Cooper singled and scored to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead in the first, reached on an infield single with one out in the second, and singled with two out in the fourth.
Junior second baseman Megan Godwin (Manchester) was credited with an RBI when she was walked with the bases loaded in the first, forcing in Cooper. Brett following the walk to Godwin with a sacrifice fly to the opposite field in right to help the Warriors to an early 2-0 lead.
Akcer gave up eight hits and three runs (two earned) in 4 2/3 innings without fanning or walking a batter. Martin was touched for only three hits and two runs (one earned) over the final 3 1/3 innings. Tufts never scored more than one run in an inning, and was able to send as many as six batters to the plate in only one inning.
The loss ended Eastern's streak of 37 consecutive regular-season northern wins, which dated back to 2011.
Fournier gained her tenth win against a loss by pitching the final three scoreless innings. She allowed only a single by Hancock with two out in the sixth while fanning two and walking none.