Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information
Orono, Maine – Meagan Butsch set a pair of school records by clubbing two home runs, but her performance was overshadowed by Kali Burnham’s clutch hitting as Maine won both games of an America East Conference softball doubleheader by one run over UAlbany at Kessock Field on Saturday, April 25. The Black Bears took the first game, 1-0, and the nightcap by a 4-3 score.
The first game featured a pitcher’s duel between aces Leah McIntosh and Jenna Balent. Maine (30-20, AE 10-7), which became the fifth America East team to reach the 30-win mark, plated the first run of the game in the bottom of the opening frame. Burnham, who drove in three of the squad’s five runs in the two games, singled through the right side, and then came home two batters later when Terren Hall hit a two-out double to right field. That also marked the last time the Black Bears placed a runner in scoring position the rest of the way.
UAlbany (30-12, AE 10-5) made several attempts to rally, but stranded four runners through the first six innings. With one last chance in the top of the seventh, Kat Smith singled with two down to keep the Great Danes alive. Diane MacDowell entered the game as a pinch runner, but Balent induced a groundout to second which allowed the Black Bears to hold on for the one-run win.
McIntosh dropped her record to 17-2 at the time with the loss. It was only her first setback in a seven-inning game since May 9, 2008 in the America East Tournament against the Seawolves. She surrendered three hits and one run which was earned while striking out seven and issuing two walks. Balent improved to 11-4 at the time with the victory, recording her eighth shutout of the season. She fanned five and gave up four hits which were all singles while issuing one walk.
UAlbany got on the scoreboard first in the fourth inning of the nightcap when Meagan Butsch hit her first home run of the day. However, the Black Bears rallied to take a 3-1 advantage in the bottom of the fifth. Batting with the bases loaded and one out, Burnham singled down the middle to give Maine its first lead. Ashley Waters, the league’s reigning player of the year, hit a sacrifice fly to right which doubled the Black Bear advantage.
The Great Danes came back to tie the score at three with two more runs in the top of the sixth. Butsch hit her 12th home run of the season and 27th of her career, breaking Kelly Ogden’s school records with one swing of the bat. With two on and two out, Kat Smith singled to plate Diane MacDowell for the equalizer.
McIntosh replaced Marissa Powell in the circle in the bottom half of the same inning, inducing three straight outs. However, the Black Bears were able to finish the sweep in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the seventh on Burnham’s game-winning hit. Her single scored Lyndsey Jenkins with one out, which allowed Maine to become the first America East team to sweep a doubleheader against UAlbany since UMBC accomplished the feat on April 8, 2007.
Powell yielded five hits and three runs which were earned while issuing two walks and striking out four in five innings of work. McIntosh pitched the final 1.1 innings and was tagged with the loss, dropping to 17-3 this spring. Balent went the distance again for the Black Bears and improved to 12-4 in the winning effort. She gave up seven hits and three runs which were all earned. The senior also fanned five batters and issued just one walk.
UAlbany and Maine will conclude the three-game set with a pivotal contest tomorrow at noon. Only three losses separate the first and sixth-place teams in the conference standings after today’s action around the league.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information
Posted by BRE at 10:29 AM