May 8, 2009
BRONX, N.Y. - Top-seeded University of Massachusetts seems to have found a second home in the Bronx. The top-seeded Minutewomen used a pair of home runs and the arm of Brandice Balschmiter, the 2009 Atlantic 10 Pitcher and Player of the Year, to defeat second-seeded Charlotte, 2-0, and advance to the championship game of the 2009 Atlantic 10 Softball Championship at Fordham University's Bahoshy Softball Field.
The home runs bring Massachusetts' total to five in two championship games this year and 13 in five A-10 championships games in the Bronx. The Minutewomen, who are looking for their 21st Atlantic 10 softball title, won the 2005 championship on Bahoshy Field while hitting eight round trippers in three games.
Massachusetts will play in the championship game on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. against the winner of the Charlotte-Saint Joseph's game which will be played at noon on Saturday. If Massachusetts loses that game, a second game will be necessary to crown the champion, which will take place on Sunday at noon.
Saint Joseph's advanced in the loser's bracket by defeating Saint Louis, 3-1, in the third game of the day on Friday. Saint Joseph's opened the day by eliminating Fordham, 7-3.
Game 5 - Saint Joseph's 7, Fordham 3
In the first game of the day, a rematch of the first game of the championship, Saint Joseph's, the fifth seed, used a six-run third inning, highlighted by a two-run home run from Dani Gonzales, to defeat fourth-seeded Fordham, 7-3. Gonzales also did the job in the circle for the Hawks, limiting Fordham to five hits in the complete-game win.
With one out in the Saint Joseph's third, consecutive singles from Bernadette Moran, Laura Cardone and Dana Bieniek loaded the bases for Monica Aguilar, the 2009 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. Aguilar wasted little time in delivering for the Hawks, knocking the second pitch from Fordham starter Jen Mineau through the left side to bring in Moran and Cardone. Brooke Darreff followed with another single to plate Bieniek and an Erika Rosenwinkel ground out to short plated Aguilar with the fourth run of the inning. Gonzales, who had struck out in her first four at bats against Fordham in the championship, then stepped up to the plate and sent one over the left field fence to put Saint Joseph's up 6-0. It was Gonzales' fourth home run of the year.
Gonzales then went to work in the circle, not allowing a run until Erin Fisher connected on a two-out solo home run in the fifth, her fifth of the year.
The Hawks got that run back in the top of the sixth as Gonzales doubled with one out with Sarah Falk coming on to pinch run for her. After Chelsea Plimpton relieved Mineau for the Rams, Beka Shumock grounded out to move Falk to third where she scored on a passed ball.
The Rams picked up two runs in the home half of the sixth when Melissa Andrews tripled to right with one out and Lindsey Kay Bright followed with a bunt single. After Bright stole second, Mary Beth Puccio brought in both runners with a single to right. But Gonzales was able to get Samantha Pellechio to hit into a fielder's choice and Dearborn to ground out to end the inning.
Gonzales, who struck out three and didn't walk a batter, goes to 14-12 on the year, while also going 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run, a double and two RBI. Aguilar also finished with a pair of hits for the Hawks.
Saint Joseph's improves to 25-19 with the win while Fordham closes out the season with a 37-22 record.
Game 6 - Massachusetts 2, Charlotte 0
In a game that was a pitcher's dual between Massachusetts' Balschmiter and Charlotte's Emily Jeffery, the game was decided on two home runs and one close call as the Minutewomen advanced to the championship game with a 2-0 win.
In the top of the sixth, the 49ers looked to break a scoreless tie, loading the bases with two outs. Jaime West then stepped to the plate and sent a ball deep to left pushing Massachusetts' left fielder Samantha Salato to the wall where she caught the ball to end the inning.
The Minutewomen broke the deadlock in the bottom of the inning as Whitney Williams and Whitney Mollica led off the inning with back-to-back home runs. It was the seventh home run of the year for Williams and the fifth for Mollica.
Balschmiter made the two runs hold up, retiring Charlotte in order in the seventh to go to 30-4 on the year. She struck out eight while allowing just three hits.
Charlotte threatened early, as Sarah Malene led off the game with a single but she was erased at second by Massachusetts catcher Jessica Serio while attempting to steal. Serena Smith singled later in the inning but was stranded at first.
The 49ers also had a base runner in the second when Keri Palma reached on an error with one out and moved to second on a Jenny Rumbles sacrifice. But Balschmiter struck out Lorena Vela to end the threat.
Kyllie Magill led off the Massachusetts third with a double as the Minutewomen threatened but Jeffery settled down, striking out Serio and Davina Hernandez before getting Carly Normandin to ground out to end the frame.
Massachusetts also put two runners on the in the fourth on a Mollica single and Reeves walk with one out. One out later, Audrey Boutin singled and Mollica tried to score on the play but was cut down at the plate on a perfect throw from Charlotte right fielder, Whitney Williams.
Jeffery (23-9) was the hard-luck loser for Charlotte, allowing five hits and the two runs in six innings while fanning eight.
Game 7 - Saint Joseph's 3, Saint Louis 1
In the third game of the day, Saint Joseph's stayed alive in the loser's bracket with a 3-1 win over third-seeded Saint Louis behind another complete-game performance from Gonzales.
The Billikens got on the board first, picking up a run in the bottom of the first when Kristin Nicoletti opened the inning with a single and she stole second. Rachel Heet followed with a double to score Nicoletti and give Saint Louis an early 1-0 lead.
Saint Joseph's came back with a three-run third to take a 3-1 lead. Shumock led off the Hawks' third reaching on an error and moved to second on a passed ball. Sue Lebow moved Shumock to third with a sacrifice where Falk came on to pinch run. Moran brought home Falk with an infield single and Cardone and Bieniek followed with singles, with Bieniek's hit delivering Moran. Aguilar then plated Cardone with a sacrifice fly to make it a 3-1 game.
Gonzales made the three runs stand up, allowing two hits the rest of the way to improve to 15-12 on the year. She struck out eight and walked one while allowing just five hits and the one run.
Moran collected a pair of hits for Saint Joseph's, who improves to 26-19 on the year, while Heet recorded a pair of hits for Saint Louis, who closes out the season with a 22-33 record.