Big Sky Championship Central
OGDEN, Utah -- Idaho State scored six unearned runs to break a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning, and eventually defeat Sacramento State, 10-4, in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Softball Championship on Thursday afternoon at the Wildcat Softball Complex.
The win allowed the No. 6 seed Bengals (16-25) to advance to the second round of the three-day, double-elimination tournament where they will play later today against No. 2 seed Montana at 4:00 p.m. PDT. No. 3 seed Sacramento State (20-27-1) is still alive, but will have to make its way out of the elimination bracket, beginning tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. PDT against No. 4 Southern Utah.
To have a shot at winning the Big Sky title and gain the subsequent automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals, Sacramento State will have to win five straight games, including two tomorrow and three on Saturday. For complete tournament information, including brackets and much more, please click here.
All 14 runs in today's game were scored with two outs in the inning. None more important than Idaho State's six runs in the seventh inning. In that seventh, a hit and a Hornet error sandwiched around a popout put runners at first and second with one out for the Bengals.
Matthias then got Sarah Hayes to ground out for the second out of the inning. That set up Idaho State's Nos. 2-6 hitters who responded with five consecutive hits. The big blows were a two-run double from Big Sky MVP Kacie Burnett which gave ISU a 6-4 lead and a three-run triple from Haley Harrison that put the game away.
Making the loss even more painful is the Hornets held a 3-2 lead in the sixth inning.
With the Hornets trailing, 2-1, in the fifth, it was Mo Spieth coming through with a two-out, two-run double allowing both Sydney Rasmussen and Suzy Brookshire to score and give Sacramento State a 3-2 lead. However, in the top of the sixth, it was a two-out, two-run double from Alex Portesi that allowed Idaho State to reclaim the advantage at 4-3. The Hornets would tie in the bottom of the inning after Rasmussen's two-out single to center field tied things at 4-4.
Matthias (8-9) got the loss for Sacramento State, allowing 11 hits and 10 runs (four earned) in 6.2 innings. Danielle Sperry got the final out of the seventh in relief. For Idaho State, Ashlyn Ames (8-14) earned the win, yielding nine hits and four runs with six strikeouts.
Three players combined for six of Sacramento State's nine hits, including multi-hit games from Brookshire (2-for-3 with a run and an RBI), Johnston (2-for-3 with a run) and Rasmussen (2-for-4 with a run, stolen base and RBI). Spieth's two-run double allowed the true freshman to extend her season-high hitting streak to seven games.
Ames (8-14) went the distance in the win, allowing four runs and nine hits with six strikeouts in seven innings.
NOTES -- In five Big Sky Championship appearances, Sacramento State has yet to win a first round game at the event…the Hornets, however, have bounced back with a second round win each of the last three years.
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