Bison miss opportunity to capture first conference win
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the second game of Sunday's doubleheader with visiting Penn St.-Berks the Gallaudet University softball team found itself down 4-3 going into the fifth inning. That was before a throwing error led to two unearned runs and control problems allowed the Nittany Lions to escape with a 7-3 win in seven innings.
GU starting pitcher Alicia Johnson (San Jose, Calif.) settled into a grove and limited the Nittany Lions to just three hits through four innings. A small accomplishment after Berks (10-11, 7-3 NEAC South) batted around the Bison (2-12, 0-4) for 18 runs on 21 hits in the first game that the visitors won 18-5 in five innings.
The game came undone in the fifth as Johnson walked the lead-off batter and then hit the next batter to give the Lions runners at first and second base. A comebacker off the bat of Alyssa Stahley allowed Johnson to attempt the force out at third base, to get the lead runner, but an errant throw allowed Brittany Hicks (two runs) and Dayna Harrison to motor around to break open a close one-run game to 6-3.
Johnson (1-3) took the loss as she walked 10 batters, struck out six and allowed seven runs (five earned) on only four hits.
Gallaudet had its best opportunity to take over the game in the bottom of the fourth when the Buff and Blue loaded the bases against starting pitcher Devon Denker (4-6) with no outs and the heart of the order (No. 3, 4, 5 batters) coming to bat. Denker gutted out the stretch and induced fly outs, including one infield fly out, to get out of the jam and help Berks cling to the 4-3 lead.
The combination of Alicia Johnson and the Johnson sisters, Paige and Krystal, helped the Bison score their three runs. Paige Johnson (North Richland Hills, Texas) went 2-for-4 in the second game and scored twice while her younger sister Krystal Johnson drove in two runs as she collected one hit. Alicia Johnson had the best day at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance and scored one run.
Nittany Lion relief pitcher Casey Hafer picked up her first save of the season as she pitched three scoreless innings where she allowed one hit and struck out five Bison to preserve the win. The Bison should hold their heads high in the four-run loss as Berks is leading the conference in wins and near the top in standings. The week prior the Nittany Lions clobbered conference foe College of St. Elizabeth by 30 runs in a 32-2 win in five innings.
In the first game, the Nittany Lions scored a run in every inning as they jumped out to a quick 5-0 lead after the first inning and never looked back. Shortstop Dayna Harrison (4-for-5, three RBI) and Hicks (3-for-3, four RBI) did the most damage as each had a home run off Bison pitcher Paige Johnson (0-5).
GU scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning to cut the lead to nine, 12-3, and added two more runs in the fourth inning. Alicia Johnson was the only Bison to record two hits in the 13-run loss.
The Bison will step out of conference on Tuesday, April 5, and host College of Notre Dame (Md.) for two games with the first contest set for 3 p.m.