Bucs Rally for 4-3 Win on Senior DayMay 6, 2012
by CSU Sports Information
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Kristin Kelleher lined a 9th inning RBI single into right-center field to score Ari Tedesco and give Charleston Southern a wild 4-3 victory over Radford in the regular season finale at Buccaneer Field on Sunday afternoon.
The triumph secured the No. 3 seed in the Big South Tournament for CSU (30-24, 12-9) and clinched the Bucs' second 30-win season in three years. The Bucs will begin tourney play against sixth seeded Liberty this Thursday on the campus of Radford University in a scheduled 2 p.m. first pitch.
CSU trailed Radford (32-19, 16-5) 1-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, and 3-1 going to the bottom of the eighth, but came from behind for a dramatic victory on Senior Day for Melissa Adams, Kelleher, and Megan Lombard. All three were honored prior to the first pitch of their final home game at Buccaneer Field. Each player took the field with their parents and was presented with a plaque and flower bouquets by teammates, head coach Shane Winkler, and assistant Meredith Felts.
Radford broke through with an unearned run to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the seventh. Micalah Sacre reached second base on an error to start the inning, and eventually came across the plate on Michelle Beall’s bunt single up the third baseline.
CSU would not go quietly in its final turn at-bat of regulation, as Linzy Rother reached first on an error to begin the frame. Jasmine Conley pinch ran for Rother and made her way to third on a groundout and a wild pitch with two outs and Tedesco at the plate. Tedesco laid down a terrific bunt against Dameron, sneaking it just past the circle and toward second base to score Conley with a RBI single to tie the game at 1 apiece and force extra innings.
Radford immediately seized the advantage back in the eighth, posting a pair of runs on one hit, a hit by pitch, and some daring base running. Nichole Beall stole home for the first run, sneaking in with a feet first slide ahead of the throw to the plate when Madden forced a rundown between first and second. Hutchens then tacked on insurance with a RBI single to right field.
The Bucs once again exhibited their mettle by responding with a pair of unearned markers to knot the score at 3-3 in the bottom of the eighth versus Highlanders’ reliever Emily Norton (3-5). Brock was hit by a pitch with one out, and Matthews slapped a single through the middle to put two runners on. Norton retired Sbardella for the second out, but could not get the final out to clinch a series sweep for Radford. Hayes Holdsworth lifted a soft line drive to shallow right field, and the ball ticked off the glove of Warr, allowing both runs to score and tie the game.
Morgan Dowdy (17-12) was then able to work her way out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the ninth, setting the stage for Kelleher’s walk-off heroics. Tedesco provided a spark when she hustled down the first base line and collided with Hutchens at first, causing the ball to come loose. She then scooted up to second on Lombard’s groundout, before racing home with the winning run on Kelleher’s clutch base knock.
Dowdy earned the win after another determined effort which saw her strike out seven over a career-high 9.0 innings, while allowing the three runs (two earned) on seven hits and three walks.
Dowdy and Radford starter Stephanie Dameron hooked up in a pitcher’s duel from the outset. The first seven Radford batters to come to the dish against Dowdy were retired, including three via strikeout. Lombard rapped a leadoff single for CSU in the first, but Dameron proceeded to set down the next six batters.
The Highlanders mounted a threat in the fourth, as an error by the Bucs and a single by Hannah Ojeda placed runners on first and second with nobody out. Melanie Stickney threw in behind Nichole Beall at second base after a Dowdy offering and caught her in a rundown, however, for the first out of the frame. Dowdy dismissed the rally herself from there, recording a pop out and a grounder to escape any damage.
Radford mounted another threat in the fifth, as Jackie Warr reached on an error, stole second base, and crossed to third on a warning track fly out by Michelle Beall. Dowdy stayed strong with the go-ahead run 60 feet away, though, as she struck out Ryndee Ruch on a pretty changeup.
Ojeda sparked a two-out rally for Radford in the sixth, lifting a triple to the left-center field fence. Vicki Madden followed with a walk, and pinch-runner Jessica Agee then moved up to second base to put two runners in scoring position for Jessie Hutchens. Hutchens worked the count full against Dowdy, but the Bucs’ ace right-hander froze her with a called strike three on the inside corner to keep the contest scoreless.
The Bucs pieced together a two-out threat of their own in the bottom of the sixth, as Jessica Brock and Jana Matthews stroked consecutive singles to keep the inning alive for Stephanie Sbardella. Dameron kept her cool just as Dowdy had in the top of the inning, however, inducing a fielder’s choice groundout to thwart the rally.
CSU heads back to the diamond this Thursday against Liberty in the Big South Tournament at Radford University. Tourney play will conclude next Sunday in a 12 noon championship game to be televised on ESPNU, with the winner earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Big South Tournament Pairings and ScheduleRelated Item: Box Score