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Lions Rally For Saturday Sweep

Feb. 24, 2007

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - LMU rallied for two big wins to wrap up play at the Palm Springs Classic on Saturday. Runs in the fourth and sixth innings gave LMU a 2-1 win over Long Island in the first game of the day. The Lions rallied from a 6-3 deficit with a run in the sixth and two in the seventh to force extra innings against Maryland. LMU scored three in the top of the ninth for a 9-6 win over the Terps to wrap up the tournament with two straight wins.

LMU improves to 12-7 on the season, including a 3-2 record in the prestigious 26-team tournament.

Strong pitching and timely hitting were the key to the Lions' first win of the day over Long Island. Melissa Dykema pitched a gem, allowing just one run on five hits with three strikeouts and only two walks. The Blackbirds stranded eight runners on base for the game.

After LIU took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, the Lions tied things up in the fourth. Margo Pineda led off the inning with a double to right center. Kylie Conroy was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. Both runners advanced on a deep fly ball by Tracy Cook. The Lions scored their first run of the game on an RBI fielder's choice by Christine Foley.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the sixth. Tiffany Gonzales was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. She was replaced by pinch runner J.J. Hartung, and Hartung moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Pineda. LIU intentionally walked Conroy to get to Cook, who popped up. With runners at first and second and two outs, Foley got her second RBI of the day when she singled to left field to put LMU up, 2-1.

Dykema retired the Blackbirds in the top of the seventh to preserve the LMU win.

The freshman pitcher again was the key to the LMU victory in the tournament finale against Maryland. Earlier in the tournament, Maryland defeated #10 Texas, so the Lions knew they were in for a battle.

The Terps took a 3-0 lead after two innings, but LMU tied it up with three runs in the third. Chelsie Tysdal led off the inning with her first career home run. MiaSarah Cesena and Kirsten Slouber followed with back to back singles, and the Lions cut the lead to one on Hartung's RBI single. Conroy's RBI single to center field tied things up, 3-3.

The Terrapins took the lead again with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to go up, 6-3. Dykema replaced starter Tiffany Pagano, and was lights out. She completely shut down Maryland, not allowing a hit for the rest of the game.

The Lions fed off of her success in the circle and chipped away at the lead. They made it a 6-4 game with a run in the sixth. Conroy led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on an error. She advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Foley and came home on an RBI single by Megan Ackerman.

Down 6-4 heading into the top of the seventh, the Lions continued to rally and tied things up with two runs. With two outs, Hartung walked and Pineda forced an error to put runners at first and second. Conroy brought both runners home with a triple to left centerfield to force extra innings.

Dykema continued to frustrate the UM batters, sitting them down in order in the seventh inning.

With the teams using the international tiebreaker, things got interesting. The Lions started the eighth inning with a runner at second, and advanced the runner to third on a sacrifice. But two outs stranded the runner. Maryland's runner advanced to third on a wild pitch, but a strikeout and two groundouts kept the game going into the ninth.

With Kirsten Whitt placed at second, Cesena led off the inning with a single. With runners at the corner, LMU took its first lead of the game on Slouber's RBI single. After an out, Pineda brought home two runners with a two-RBI triple to right field to give the Lions a 9-6 advantage.

Starting the inning with the runner at second, Maryland earned a walk, but Dykema struck out the final two batters of the game to earn the second win of the day. In fact, Dykema earned all three LMU victories in the Palm Springs Classic. In game two, she pitched six no-hit innings, allowing two walks and struck out four. For the day, Dykema allowed one run on five hits in 13.0 innings of work.

Pagano allowed six runs on seven hits with five walks and four strikeouts in the start.

Conroy was 2-for-4 with three RBI and a run scored, while Slouber was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

The schedule doesn't get any easier next week, as the Lions will face UCLA on Tuesday in Westwood. LMU will host UC Riverside at Smith Field for a doubleheader on Wednesday starting at noon.