SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Idaho State combined for 15 runs and 22 hits over two games on the way to a doubleheader sweep of Sacramento State in a Big Sky Conference softball matchup Friday afternoon at Shea Stadium. The Bengals won the first game in nine innings by a 7-0 score, followed by an 8-5 victory in the nightcap.
The two teams wrap up their three-game series tomorrow at noon. The series was a matchup of the top two teams in the league, and Idaho State (27-14, 12-2) took a firm grip on first place with today's sweep. Sacramento State (21-22, 10-4) dropped into a virtual tie for second place with Weber State (9-3) which saw their doubleheader at Northern Colorado canceled today because of inclement weather.
Idaho State came through with a number of clutch hits in today's doubleheader, as the Bengals hit .385 (10-for-26) with runners in scoring position and .333 (19-for-57) with runners on base. Sacramento State had five runs and 12 hits over the two games, but scored in just two of the 16 innings played.
Hornet junior first baseman Sasha Margulies had a hit in both games today, and pushed her hitting streak to nine games, the longest by a Sacramento State player this season.
Senior right-hander Caitlin Brooks and Idaho State hurler Sophie Slagle were locked in an epic pitchers duel that saw each pitcher blank the opposition on three hits during the first eight innings of the game.
The Hornets had a big opportunity to end the game in the seventh inning when Margulies connected on a leadoff double. Alexa Chattleton then crushed a full-count pitch on the line to right fielder Gabby Lopez who caught the ball in her tracks. After a walk to Alexis Martinez put runners at first and second with one out, Slagle got both Shelby Johnston and Nicole Clark to pop out.
The Hornets threatened again in the eighth inning when Zamari Hinton connected on a two-out double, but Kortney Solis grounded out to third to end the inning.
That set up Idaho State's ninth inning that saw the Bengals score seven times on seven hits without the benefit of a hard-hit ball. In perhaps the unluckiest inning in Brooks' career, Idaho State found a way to take advantage of three infield singles, two sawed off bloop hits, one bad-hop single, a pair of Hornet errors, two walks and just one clean single. By the time the inning ended, Idaho State had a commanding 7-0 lead. Five different Bengals had RBIs in the inning despite zero solid contact the entire frame.
Slagle then retired the Hornet side in order in the bottom of the ninth to improve her record to 13-6. She allowed just three hits while walking three and striking out seven batters over nine innings. Slagle needed 157 pitches to earn the win.
Brooks hadn't lost since March 14, and had won five straight decisions prior to today's loss. She allowed 10 hits and seven runs (three earned) while striking out eight batters and throwing exactly 200 pitches. Of the Hornets' three hits, two came off the bat of Hinton.
The Hornets jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the second inning on a Johnston two-run single scoring Margulies and Alexa Chattleton, but Idaho State would score eight unanswered runs and hold off a late Hornet rally. The Bengals scored four times in the third inning, three times in the fifth and once more in the sixth.
After retiring six of the first seven batters she faced, Hornet starter Celina Matthias ran into trouble in the third inning when Idaho State sent eight batters to the plate, scoring four times on five hits. The Bengals used RBI-singles from Lopez and Hailey Breakwell, an RBI-double from Vicky Galasso and a sacrifice fly from Maddy Hickman to account for the runs in the inning. The Galasso double gave ISU its first lead of the game.
The Bengals tacked on three more runs in a fifth inning which saw Matthias replaced by reliever Kaitlyn Yerby midway through the inning. Ashlyn Ames, who pitched all seven innings, helped her own cause with a two-run single in the inning. ISU tacked on another run in the sixth on another RBI-double from Galasso.
With the Hornets trailing, 8-2, in the seventh, Sacramento State mounted a threat getting an RBI-double from pinch hitter Paige Castro and an RBI-single from Paige Martin. An error by left fielder Kacie Burnett on the Martin single allowed a second run to score, and the Hornets trailed, 8-5, with two outs and a runner at second base. However, Ames retired Hinton on a ground ball to end the game.
Ames (9-4) picked up the win despite allowing nine hits and five runs (four earned) with just one strikeout over seven innings. Matthias (9-12) got the loss after working the first 4.1 innings. Yerby allowed three hits and one run in 2.2 innings of relief.
Sacramento State finished the game with nine hits, including two apiece from Martin (2-for-4 with an RBI), Chattleton (2-for-3 with two runs) and Johnson (2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs). Margulies was 1-for-2 with a run and one walk. That was the only walk Ames allowed all game.
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