From University of Rochester Athletics
Brittany Grage hit a two-out grand slam home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to rally the University of Rochester to a 6-3 victory over Moravian College in an elimination game at the Rochester (NY) Regional in the NCAA Division III Softball Championships.
Rochester scored two in the sixth and four in the seventh to rally for the win. The victory set up a second elimination game on Saturday afternoon with the winner advancing to the Super Regional Round of the championships next weekend.
Grage earned the victory in the circle. She scattered four hits, walked three, and struck out three. All three runs she allowed were unearned. They came in the top of the third when Rochester commited errors on three straight plays.
The loss went to Josie Novak. She relieved Amanda Carisone after Carisone gave up a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh. Novak walked two and gave up one hit – the gamewinning home run in two-thirds of an inning. Carisone allowed four hits, three earned runs, and walked one.
Rochester managed only one baserunner in the first four innings – Kayla Kibling reached on an error to lead off the fourth. The Yellowjackets didn't get a hit until pinch-hitter Ashley Amidon singled up the middle with two down in the fifth.
Meanwhile, a series of misplays in the top of the third led to three runs for the Greyhonds. Lizzie Deutsch grounded to Kibling at short, but her throw to first was dropped by Gabriela Alatorre. Janae Matos bunted. Eleni Wechsler fielded it, but her throw to second pulled the fielder off the bat. Ninth-place hitter Megan Taylor bunted. Wechsler fielded it but her throw went past first base, allowing Deutsch to score the first run.
The Yellowjackets walked Jenn Dalickas intentionally to load the bases. Grage got two ground balls to Kibling and she threw home for back to back forces. That brought up cleanup hitter Julie Siragusa. She singled off Grage's glove. Dalickas scored and Mary Schlosbon kept running, sliding home just ahead of the tag for a 3-0 lead.
Grage stranded three runners in the fourth – a one-out single by Deutsch, a walk to Matos, and an intentional pass to Dalickas after striking out Taylor. She got pinch-hitter Abby Jeffries to bounce out to Wechsler. In the fifth, Dior George bunted for a hit, moved up on a wild pitch, and took third when Siragusa grounded to short. Grage retired Lizzie Mack on a grounder to third and Victoria Conner on a groundout to second.
The Yellowjackets finally broke through in the sixth. Kibling walked. Sarah Wayson singled off Carisone's glove and Laurelle Byrne-Cody ran for her. Grage flied to Schlosbon in deep right with Kibling moving to third. Byrne-Cody stole second. Weschsler popped up, but Alatorre singled sharply up the middle for two runs.
Schlosbon had six catches in the game, going in different directions – back to the wall on Kibling's long fly in the first, a diving catch in short right on Wechsler in the second, and long flies by Wechsler in the fourth and Alatorre in the fifth.
"Mary's as good a rightfielder as there is," said Moravian coach John Byrne. "We need our best fielder there, not centerfield, because most opponent's won't pull (the ball) against our pitchers."
Rochester picked up some momentum with a key defensive play in the top of the seventh against the heart of Moravian's order. With one down, George's flyball to center was dropped. Siragusa hammered the next pitch on the ground to second. Byrne-Cody flipped it to Kibling who fired to first for the 4-6-3 DP.
"That double play helped us get up (mentally)," said Rochester coach Margaret Yerdon-Grange. "We had the bottom of the order coming up."
Liberto singled to left center and Byrne replaced Carisone with Novak. "Amanda might have been getting the ball up a bit," Byrne said. "I wanted to change it up with Josie. That had the top of the order coming up."
Rachael Roddenbery drew a full-count walk and Stephanie Brunet ran for her. After Shelby Corning grounded out with the runners advancing, Kibling walked to load the bases.
Wayson was retired on an 0-1 popup to short on the infield fly rule. That brought Grage to the plate. "Everyone kept getting on," she said. "Rachael's walk was huge. I had to hit someone in."
She was looking outside. "She pitched me outside yesterday (Friday in game 3)," Grage said of Novak. "I wanted to see it and hit it. I actually thought I hit a popup to center field and ended the game."
"I thought it was a very good pitch," Byrne said. "I'd call the same pitch again. It just went farther than I wanted."
"When I saw the centerfielder move, I thought it was staying in (the park) or would hit the fence," Yerdon-Grange said. Kibling didn't see it clearly. She had her head down, running as quickly as possible. "I needed to run as far as I could if it dropped," she said.
The home run was Grage's 15th of the season and gave her the Rochester single-season record. She was tied with Nina Korn who hit 14 last year. Grage tied Korn's record for single-season RBIs with 58.