SB: Sand Sharks drop two one-run games to Mariners

USCB softball dropped a pair of tough losses Wednesday at Coastal Georgia, falling 1-0 and 9-8 in a nine-inning rematch.

The Mariners got the scoring started in the first inning of game one, as Melani Jones stroked an RBI double to score Sarah Thinger and take a 1-0 lead. USCB looked to respond in the fourth with a Bri Dunn single up the middle. Ashlyn Alte moved the runner over to scoring position and Kaleigh Furbush knocked a single to left, but Dunn was tagged out at the plate to keep it a 1-0 game. The Sand Sharks continued to put runners on in the sixth and seventh, but failed to bring home the tying run. 

Ally Muraskin delivered another excellent start in the circle, going six innings and picking up 10 strikeouts while allowing just four hits. Dunn paced the offense with a stellar 3-for-3 game at the plate.

USCB started strong in the rematch, as Dunn and Alte crossed the plate on a wild pitch and throwing error to take a 2-0 first-inning lead. Francie Gaskin added another run for the visitors in the fourth on an RBI-double plating Amber Locasto. The Mariners closed the gap to just one with a pair of run-scoring hits in the home half, but USCB answered back with a three-run fifth. Gaskin picked up another RBI on a groundout, and Devon Weller smacked a two-RBI double to extend the lead to 6-2. 

Coastal Georgia clawed all the way back in the bottom half, scoring four runs on five hits to even the contest at 6. Neither team could find the go-ahead run in the following two frames, sending the game to extra innings. With the runner-on-second rule intact to start the eighth, Alte came up big with a two-out double to plate Emily Phillips and take a 7-6 lead. 

Rori Rhodes had the answer for Coastal Georgia with a game-tying knock to extend it into the ninth at 7-7. USCB took the lead again with a Shania Domingue single, but the Mariners scored two in the home half to win the game and sweep the series with a dramatic 9-8 victory.

Weller and Gaskin shined on offense, picking up a pair of hits and RBI each while Alte, Domingue, and Furbush also notched two hits. Sierra Bilinski impressed in relief, throwing four innings and allowing just one earned run alongside a pair of strikeouts. 

USCB (22-20, 12-10) returns home for Senior Day to close out the regular season against Southeastern on Saturday and will look to clinch a spot in the Sun Conference Tournament. It will also be Breast Cancer Awareness Day at Richard Gray Stadium, and former Sand Shark assistant coach and alumnus Ali (Simmons) Falmoe will throw out the first pitch. 

By Wes Kerr

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