April 9, 2006
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - LMU and Sacramento State split a pair of games for the second day in a row in Pacific Coast Softball Conference action this afternoon at Smith Field. Tiffany Pagano pitched another gem, a two-hit shutout, with nine strikeouts to pick up the win in game one, 4-0. Nikki Cinque hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the Hornets to the 6-5 game two victory. LMU freshman outfielder Hillaree Bennett finished the day with seven walks, and drew 12 for the four game series.
Pagano shut the Hornets down in game one. For the second straight game, Lindy Winkler led off the game with a single. Jamie Schloredt was hit by a pitch and a ground out moved runners to second and third. However, Pagano responded by striking out Gloria Toledo to end the early threat. Teri Ann Coagan led off the second inning with a single, but was caught stealing to clear the bases. She would be Sac State's last base runner. Pagano was perfect the rest of the way, not allowing a hit, a walk or a hit batter in the final 5.2 innings of the game.
Her final line was 7.0 innings, two hits, nine strikeouts, 0 walks and one hit batter. It was the second straight start in which Pagano did not allow a single walk.
LMU scored all of its runs in the fourth inning. Bennett led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice hit by Margo Pineda. Tracy Cook singled up the middle and Bennett advanced to third. With runners at first and third, Megan Ackerman hit a ball back to pitcher Cinque. She initially bobbled the ball but picked it up. She looked to throw home, but was too late to get Bennett scoring, and her throw to first base was wide. With runners at first and second and the Lions up 1-0, Brittany Bassett hit her fourth home run of the season to left center to give LMU a 4-0 lead.
The Lions threatened again in the seventh inning, with runners at second and third with one out, but a ground out and fly out ended the threat.
For the game, Bassett led LMU, going 2-for-3 with three RBI and one run scored. Bennett was 1-for-1 with three walks and one run scored. She reached base in every at-bat in game one.
Cinque took the loss in game one, allowing three earned runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Game two was a wild one. The Lions took the early lead in the top of the third inning. With two outs, Bennett drew the walk and advanced to second on a single up the middle by Pineda. Bassett drew another walk by Hornet starter Cassie Cervantes to load the bases. During the next at-bat, Hornet catcher Schloredt threw to third in an attempt to pick off Bennett at third base. The ball bounced off Bennett's back as she was heading back to the base and got loose, allowing the runner to score.
The Hornets got the run back, and more, in the bottom of the third inning. With one out, Hilary Johnson singled to the pitcher, and Winkler followed with another bunt single. After a flyout, Schloredt made up for her earlier error by hitting a home run to left field to give the Hornets the 3-1 lead. Cinque followed that up with a second home run in a row to the same place in left field to put Sac State ahead 4-1.
The craziness continued into the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Ackerman, Chelsie Tysdal and Kirsten Whitt drew three straight walks to load the bases. A run scored on a passed ball by the catcher, and a single by Kirsten Slouber scored another run to make it 4-3. MiaSarah Cesena followed that up with a single to left field, but the ball was misplayed by Hornet left fielder Johnson, allowing two more runs to score to put LMU ahead 5-4.
Heading into the fifth inning with a 5-4 lead, LMU brought in game one starter Pagano to try to close out the game. After she got Johnson to strikeout looking, she walked her first batter of the weekend, Winkler to put a runner at first base. Winkler stole second, and came home on a single by Schloredt to tie the game at 5-5.
The game remained scoreless until the eighth inning, although both teams had excellent opportunities. A leadoff error by LMU allowed a leadoff runner in the sixth inning, and Hornets were able to get the runner to third base, but Pagano induced three straight groundouts to preserve the tie. The Lions had runners at first and second with two outs in the sixth inning, but Cervantes forced a fly out to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, and one out, Winkler singled up the middle, but a fielder's choice and a ground out forced extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Slouber hit a two-out single to right field, and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but a ground out kept the game tied.
Cinque led off the bottom of the eighth inning with her second home run of the day, a blast to left field that allowed the Hornets to walk off with a 6-5 victory.
Cervantes got the win for Sac State, allowing five runs, three earned, in 8.0 innings of work. She struck out 11 batters and walked 11 and surrendered five hits.
LMU starter Samantha Lavino allowed four runs on four hits with two strikeouts in 2.2 innings of work, and reliever Krystal Kehr allowed one hit in 1.1 innings of work. Pagano took the tough loss in relief, allowing two runs on three hits with one walk and one strikeout in 3.0 innings.
Slouber led the Lions, going 3-for-5 with one RBI and one run scored. Cesena and Pineda also had hits for LMU.
In the ultimate sign of respect, Bennett was walked in every single at-bat in the second game, bringing her total for the day to seven. For the weekend, she walked 12 times. In official at-bats for the weekend, she was 1-for-3, but she reached base 13 times, an incredible .867 on base percentage. For the season, she has 33 walks, and is just one away from tying the LMU single season record for walks of 34 set last year by Danielle Kaminaka.
Schloredt and Cinque were both 2-for-4 at the plate wit home runs. Schloredt finished with four RBI and Cinque had two RBI. Winkler also had two hits for the Hornets.
The Lions and Hornets were picked as the top two teams in the preseason poll and this weekend's series proved to be close. The teams split on day one and walk away from the first weekend of conference play with a 2-2 record.
The Lions are now 22-15 on the season, and the Hornets are 21-14.
LMU takes to the road for another tough weekend of PCSC play, taking on the Portland State Vikings next weekend in Portland. PSU was picked tied for second place with the Hornets in the preseason coaches poll and sit in first place in conference play after a weekend sweep of Saint Mary's.
- GO LIONS! -