April 7, 2014
Evanston, Ill. - Behind a complete game win from senior ace Brittany Gardner, the Loyola University Chicago softball team earned a 5-3 decision over Missouri State in the second game of today's doubleheader on Northwestern University's Sharon J. Drysdale Field in Evanston, Ill. With the victory, Gardner upped her career total to 644.1 innings pitched, effectively breaking Loyola's all-time career record in that category. With the win, the Ramblers improve to 14-19 and 5-6 in the Missouri Valley Conference, while the Bears fall to 22-15 and 5-6 in the MVC.
"Obviously we would've liked to have taken both games this afternoon, but I am proud of the way our team battled back in the second game," said head coach Missy Beseres. "Tarran (Shaffer) was really on fire at the plate today for us, and we needed Brittany (Gardner) to come through in the second game. To break the all-time career record at Loyola is a wonderful accomplishment for her and is a testament to how much our team has leaned on her throughout her four years in Maroon & Gold."
Both Loyola and Missouri State scored one run a piece on the first inning, with the Bears getting on the board first in the top of the frame. After Ashley Brentz reached on a Loyola fielding error, she was able to advance to second base on a Kerri Cunningham sacrifice bunt and scooted over to third base on a passed ball. Brentz was then able to cross the plate on another Loyola fielding error, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
Loyola tied the game in the bottom of the frame, however, after Brie Pasquale led off with a single to center field. Pasquale was able to advance to second on a Jessica Balzano sacrifice bunt, and the sophomore scored on a Lauren Moore single to deep center field to make the score 1-1.
In the top of the third inning, Loyola fell prey to a series of fielding errors that allowed two Missouri State runs to score. Cunningham led off the inning with a grounder that was thrown wide into right field, which allowed her to advance to third base on the error. Following the play, she scored on a Heather Duckworth ground ball that was bobbled by Rambler pitcher Brittany Gardner, giving the Bears a 2-1 lead. A walk and a sacrifice bunt then put Missouri State base runners at second and third, and a Rebecca McPherson ground out scored another run to increase the Bears' lead to two runs, 3-1, before Gardner ended the inning with a strike out.
The Ramblers responded in the bottom of the fourth inning, pushing two runs across to tie the game at 3-3. After the Ramblers loaded the bases on an Annie Korth single and two walks by Alyssa Mannucci and Katy LaCivita, Erica Nagel roped a single through the right side to plate Mannucci. Korth was then able to score on a passed ball to even the score.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Katy LaCivita led off the frame with a single to left field, followed by a Nagel sacrifice bunt that got away from the Missouri State first baseman. With two on, Pasquale worked a full-count walk to load the bases for Balzano, who singled through the right side to score one and give the Ramblers a 4-3 lead. Tarran Shaffer followed it up with a single of her own, this time through the left side, to plate Pasquale and make the score 5-3.
The deficit was too much for the Bears to overcome, as Gardner shut down the Missouri State line up in the final inning. The senior finished the day with five strikeouts, giving up three runs on four hits in seven innings pitched.
Shaffer led the Ramblers at the plate with a 2-for-4 day that included one RBI. Nagel and Korth contributed notably as well, with Nagel going 2-for-2 with one RBI and Korth finishing 2-for-3 with one run scored.
Loyola is back in action this Thursday, when the Ramblers host DePaul in a mid-week match up at 4:00 p.m. at Loyola Softball Park in Chicago, Ill.