Softball Pulls Off Eighth-Inning 6-5 Win After 2-1 Victory In First Game

ALMA, Mich. – Alma College softball improved to 15-7 on the season with two wins against visiting Northwood University Wednesday afternoon at Scots Park. Alma won 2-1 in the first game, scoring consecutive runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings and then pulled off a 6-5, eighth inning victory with an Emily Blahnik pinch-hit double in the bottom of the eighth.

The first game saw Northwood gain an early one-run lead in the fourth after Kay McDonald (Rosebush/Mt. Pleasant) struck out six batters through the first three innings. Northwood's only run would come unearned in the fourth when the right fielder reached on an error at third base, followed by an RBI double by the third baseman to score, unearned.

Alma answered in the fifth inning when Houston Verbeck (Flint/Kearsley) doubled with one out to put a runner in scoring position. Blahnik, playing in right field, took first on a walk as Trista Geier (West Bloomfield/Walled Lake Western) knocked an RBI single and moved to second on the throw as Blahnik moved to third. Taylor Erwin (Fenton) ground out for the second out of the inning before Missy Morcom (Chelsea) popped up to end the inning with Alma and Northwood locked at 1-1. It was the sixth inning that gave the Scots the win as Amy Gaudard (Mt. Pleasant) walked with one out. Sarah Johnson (Portland) then placed a sacrifice bunt in the field to move Gaudard to second. A Brittany Fales (Midland/Dow) double into right center sent Gaudard home before Verbeck popped out to end the game with a 2-1 advantage for the Maroon and Cream.

Kay McDonald ended the day with 10 strikeouts in seven innings, scattering five hits and allowing just one run, unearned.

The second game, Katie Koechling (Wheaton, Ill./North) was the pitcher of record to pick up her fourth win of the season as Alma won 6-5 in eight innings. Koechling got one strike out and allowed eight hits – five runs, three earned – in eight innings of work. At the plate, four different Scots recorded hits as Fales, Verbeck, Blahnik and Geier each got hits in the win.

The line showed Northwood scoring single runs in the first, second, fourth, fifth and eighth innings with Alma putting up single runs in the first and third and two runs in both the sixth and the eighth innings.

Alma scored in the first after Morcom was hit by a pitch and Miller doubled to left field to score Morcom. A Gaudard strike out and Johnson ground out that moved Miller to third led to a Verbeck ground out to end the inning. The third inning opened with another Alma batter being hit by the pitch as Angie Asam (Rogers City) took first, then moved to second with a Morcom sacrifice bunt. Miller was out with a line drive into right field and Amy Gaudard put two runners aboard with a walk. Asam was able to capitalize on a wild pitch, moving to third base before Sarah Johnson singled down the right field line to score Asam before a Verbeck ground ball to short ended the inning with the game tied 2-2.

Alma faced a 4-2 deficit entering the bottom of the sixth inning but Verbeck gained first on a fielding error by the shortstop. An Erwin single put runners at first and second and a walk to catcher Sarah Seals (Alma) loaded the bases. Brittany Fales then came in to pinch hit for junior Liana Easterby who started the game at shortstop. It was a passed ball that would first allow the Scots to score, moving each runner up a base as Verbeck scored, unearned. Fales ground out to third base for the first out of the inning. Angie Asam bunted and took first on a fielder's choice that intended to catch Erwin out at home but an error by the catcher allowed Asam to move to second and collect an RBI and move Seals to third. Seals was caught stealing and Morcom went down swinging to end the sixth inning with two runs and a tied ballgame.

The game then headed into extra innings with the international tiebreaker rule as each team is allowed a runner on second – the last out of the last inning. Northwood put Jones on second and moved her along with a sacrifice bunt and an Echevarria RBI single before two outs.

Northwood held a 5-4 lead entering the bottom of the eighth with Sarah Johnson placed on second. Houston Verbeck reached first on a throwing error by the shortstop, moving Johnson to third base. Erwin got the first out of the inning with a pop up to first base. Emily Blahnik – who got her first extra base hit of the season with a double in the first game – stepped in to pinch hit for Seals, knocking a solid double into right field to score both Johnson and Verbeck, all the way from first.

Verbeck was 0-for-4 at the plate, but scored two unearned runs, capitalizing on opportunities as Miller went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Alma returns to action Saturday with an MIAA contest against St. Mary's at Scots Park at 3 p.m.