SB: Sand Sharks work OT for split with Georgia College

USCB softball picked up another win over a Division II opponent in dramatic fashion Wednesday, beating Georgia College 8-7 in nine innings before falling 7-4 in the rematch to split a home doubleheader. 

The Bobcats found the scoreboard first in a back-and-forth game one, plating two runs in the top of the second on a groundout and throwing error. USCB’s Ashlyn Alte put her team in front on one swing of the bat in the bottom of the third, launching her Sun Conference-leading fifth home run of the season to take a 3-2 lead. 

Georgia College scored three unanswered runs in the middle innings and carried a 5-3 advantage heading into the bottom of the seventh. The Sand Shark bats got to work, as Taylor VanHouse reached with a single before Reynolds drew a walk to put a pair of runners on. Mackenzie Freeman ripped a single to cut the lead to one, and Francie Gaskin came through with a two-out hit to knot the contest at 5-5. An aggressive baserunning decision from Freeman resulted in an out between third and home, forcing the contest into extra innings. 

Reghan Steifle picked up a massive strikeout to strand the bases loaded in the top of the eighth and limit Georgia College to a single run, and Harlee Walker drove in automatic runner Alyssa Smith to send the game to the ninth. 

The Bobcats grabbed the lead again at 7-6 on a Jessica Owens single, but USCB responded with an Alte sacrifice bunt and another clutch Gaskin single to even the game at 7-7. Jazmin Raminez drew a walk to load the bases with two outs, and Daryn Miller finished the job, blooping a single into right field to score Reynolds and pull off a thrilling 8-7 walk-off win. 

Gaskin was nearly unstoppable at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two game-tying RBI hits in the seventh and ninth innings. Freeman was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI, while Reynolds hit a three-run homer, walked twice, and scored the game-winning run. 

Caitlin Toole shined in relief in the circle with just two hits allowed and no earned runs through 3.2 innings, and Steifle earned the victory with 1.1 scoreless innings of work including a  key strikeout to leave the bases loaded.

USCB took an early lead in the nightcap, as  Jaci Coleman tripled to deep center before scoring on a passed ball to grab a 1-0 first-inning lead. Georgia College went in front in the third inning, plating a pair of runs on a Sand Shark error for a 2-1 advantage. But USCB starter Taylor Florea was brilliant throughout the rest of the first six innings, racking up a whopping nine strikeouts and five 1-2-3 frames. 

The Sand Sharks pushed for the lead in the bottom of the sixth, as Reynolds drew a one-out walk before Freeman poked a single up the middle. Gaskin put together another strong plate appearance, working a walk on a full count to load the bases. Then the walk-off hero from game one came through again, as Miller sizzled a bases-clearing single to take a 4-2 lead into the seventh. 

The Sand Sharks couldn’t seal it in the final inning, as Georgia College scored five runs before Montana Ledbetter shut the door in the bottom half to secure a doubleheader split. 

Florea turned in a stellar outing in the circle, throwing 6.1 innings and striking out nine batters while allowing five hits and a walk. Miller was 1-for-3 with a three-RBI single, and Coleman added a triple and scored a run.

USCB (7-7) takes a week off from action before heading down to Kissimmee, Fla., for a six-game set at The Spring Games. 

By Wes Kerr

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