April 28, 2007
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Junior Tiffany Pagano broke the LMU career strikeout and shutout record in game two of LMU's sweep over Saint Mary's in PCSC action this afternoon at Smith Field. LMU downed the Gaels 8-0 in both games, needing just six innings for each shutout win. SMC managed just four hits on the day, and only reached third base once. The Lions now move to 39-16 on the season and are now four games ahead of Saint Mary's in the PCSC standings with a 12-2 record.
The Lions have won seven straight and 12 of their last 13 games. Saint Mary's falls to 23-31 on the season and is 8-6 in conference play.
In just three seasons, Pagano now has 521 career strikeouts, and recorded her third straight shutout to break the previous record of 23. Jennifer Heliotes (1999-2002) held both records previously with 519 strikeouts and 22 shutouts. Heliotes set these records in an LMU career record 766.0 innings pitched. Pagano has broken both records while pitching just 501.1 innings in her career.
The games were similar in more than score. LMU took a 1-0 lead early in both games and held the slim margin until the late innings. Then the Lions exploded in the fifth and sixth innings to invoke the run rule.
SMC led off the first game by reaching on an error and after a walk, the Gaels had runners at first and second. But LMU starter Melissa Dykema forced a fly out and a ground out to keep SMC off the board.
The Gaels would get their only hit of game one to lead off the second inning, but a pop up and a double play ended the threat. SMC only reach base once more with a walk, as Dykema shut down the SMC offense. The Gaels came into today's games with a team batting average of .311 in PCSC play, but they couldn't manage much against the LMU pitching and defense.
LMU stranded runners in the second, third and fourth innings, but finally broke through on the scoreboard again in the fifth. Cesena led off with a double and scored on a Tracy Cook RBI single to centerfield to make it a 2-0 game. Christine Foley gave the Lions a little more breathing room with her third home run of the season, a two-run blast to left field.
With four runs in the sixth, the Lions were able to invoke the run rule. Kirsten Whitt led off the inning with a walk and advanced to second on a single by Kirsten Slouber. A bunt single by Cesena loaded the bases. A groundout by Margo Pineda allowed Whitt to score from third, and Conroy drove in another two runs to give the Lions a 7-0 lead. With Conroy on third and one out, a deep sacrifice fly by Cook gave the Lions the eight run lead and ended the game.
Dykema was on fire, recording her third shutout of the season and her first in PCSC play. She improves to 22-7 overall with the one-hit shutout. She struck out four and walked two for the win. Megan Galloway took the loss for SMC, allowing four runs on nine hits in 5.0 innings. She struck out two and walked two. Lauren Gardner pitched the final 0.2 innings, allowing four runs on three hits with one walk.
Every batter in the lineup had a hit in the game, and Conroy, Slouber and Cesena had two hits each. Conroy drove in three runs and Cesena scored three times.
Game two was almost identical to game one. After a scoreless first, Cook hit a solo home run in the second to give LMU the 1-0 lead. It was her fifth home run of the season.
The Gael offense continued to struggle, as Pagano struck out four of the first five batters she faced. Lauren Clark's single with two outs in the bottom of the third gave SMC its first baserunner of the game.
SMC's best scoring opportunity of the day game in the fourth inning. Bronwyn Russell led off with a chopping infield single and advanced to second on a sacrifice hit. She moved to third on a groundout, but Pagano forced Sadie Dolcini to strikeout looking to end the threat and preserve the shutout.
SMC's starting pitcher Kate Albaugh did a pretty good job keeping the Lions on their toes. Cook and Slouber were the only Lions to record hits through the first four innings, but the flood gates opened in the fifth inning.
Whitt's two run home run gave the Lions a 3-0 lead. Slouber followed with a double to left center and scored on Cesena's RBI single through the left side of the infield. The run gave LMU a 4-0 cushion.
With two strikeouts in the fifth, Pagano tied the LMU career strikeout mark, but the record breaking strikeout game in the sixth inning. Molly Bergeson struck out looking to give Pagano her 520th career K. For good measure, Pagano struck out Lauren Mello looking to end the inning.
LMU scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth to invoke the run rule for the second time on Saturday. A bases loaded walk to Whitt made it a 5-0 LMU lead, and Slouber cleared the bases with one swing of the bat to score three more runs and give LMU the 8-0 win.
Slouber was 3-for-4 in game two with three RBI, and Whitt was 1-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored. Cook was 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.
Pagano (17-8) recorded her third straight shutout and her fifth in PCSC play. She allowed just three hits and no walks with nine strikeouts.
The junior from Temecula has been lights out at home this year. In 99.1 innings at Smith Field, Pagano is 12-2 with eight shutouts and a 0.49 ERA. In five PCSC starts at home, she has not allowed a single run. She will get the opportunity to record her sixth PCSC shutout on Sunday.
SMC starter Albaugh allowed four runs on six hits with four strikeouts in 5.0 innings. Chelsea Loftis finished the game for SMC, allowing four runs on three hits with two walks.
The Lions can clinch the PCSC title with two wins on Sunday over Saint Mary's. Sunday marks the final home games of the year, and the Lions will honor the three members of its senior class in a ceremony between games. Sunday's doubleheader begins at noon.
- GO LIONS! -