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LOYOLA MARYMOUNT PULLS OFF FOUR-GAME SERIES SWEEP OF SOFTBALL
LOS ANGELES -- Loyola Marymount’s Megan Ackerman combined for four hits and six RBIs over two games to lead the Lions to a doubleheader sweep of Sacramento State in a Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC) matchup on Sunday afternoon at Smith Field. Loyola Marymount won the first game, 8-6, before taking the nightcap, 4-2.
With today’s victories, Loyola Marymount pulled off a four-game sweep of Sacramento State, and moved into first place in the PCSC standings with a 33-15 overall record and an 8-4 mark in the conference. After losing four of its first six conference games of the season, the Lions have now won six consecutive league games. All four games of the series were decided by two runs or less, with the Lions coming out on top each time - including 2-1 and 1-0 victories yesterday.
The four-game sweep was a devastating blow to the Hornets’ chances of winning the PCSC regular-season championship and gaining the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals. Sacramento State entered the week all alone in first place in the conference standings, and now find themselves in fourth place, trailing Loyola Marymount (8-4), Portland State (7-5) and Saint Mary’s (7-5). With eight games remaining in the conference season, Sacramento State (24-19, 6-6) has four-game series remaining with the conference’s bottom two teams – April 26-27, home vs. Santa Clara, and May 3-4 on the road at San Diego. The Hornets have finished in second place in the league standings each of the last three years.
Per conference rules, Sacramento State was the designated home team in both games today despite the doubleheader being played in Los Angeles on Loyola Marymount’s home field.
In the first game, Loyola Marymount scored three runs in the third and five more in the fourth inning to gain the victory. The two teams combined for 14 runs and 21 hits (13 for LMU), and seven different players had multiple-hit games. The big blow in the contest was a grand slam off the bat of Ackerman in the fourth inning that proved to be the game-winning hit. Ackerman finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs and a game-high six RBIs.
The Hornets scored in four different innings, but it was not enough. After Ackerman’s grand slam put the Lions on top, 8-3, in the fourth inning, Sacramento State climbed back into the game with one run in the fifth (RBI-single from Jenice Bartee) and two more in the sixth (LMU throwing error allowing both Amy Tompkins and Hilary Johnson to score). The Hornets stranded the bases loaded in the sixth inning, and had the potential game-tying run at the plate in the seventh, but reliever Tiffany Pagano was able to work out the jam.
Tompkins and Johnson both finished 2-for-4 for the Hornets, and Bartee led the team with two RBIs. Loyola Marymount scored all eight of its runs off Hornet starter Kayla Meeks (11-8), who worked the first 4.1 innings. Sophomore Brittani Clifford worked the final 2.2 innings, allowing no runs and two hits.
Melissa Dykema (12-7) got the win for Loyola Marymount, allowing four runs and six hits over 4.1 innings of work. Pagano, who picked up complete-game victories in both contests yesterday, allowed two hits and two unearned runs in 2.2 innings of relief work. Loyola Marymount left 10 runners on base during the game, and Sacramento State stranded nine runners.
In the nightcap, Pagano worked her magic again, allowing the Hornets just four hits and two runs over seven innings. Pagano almost single-handedly defeated the Hornets during the four-games series, posting a 3-0 record and a 0.89 ERA. She pitched in all four games, with three of those being starts, and allowed the Hornets just a .181 batting average.
Loyola Marymount jumped on the board with three runs in the second inning, and that was all the Lions would need as Pagano faced seven batters over the minimum. During that second inning, five of the first six LMU batters reached base safely via hit off Hornet starter Megan Schaefer and Clifford who entered the game in the middle of the inning. RBI-singles from Christine Foley, Kirsten Slouber and Amy Charpentier did all the damage.
The Lions tacked on one more in the top of the fifth inning to take a 4-0 lead. Sacramento State scored two in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out, two-run single from Tompkins which scored both Amanda Meyer and Rachel Miles. The Hornets had runners at first and second with no outs in the sixth, but could not score, and Pagano retired the side in order in the seventh to deliver the win.
Schaefer took the loss, working one-plus inning, allowing three runs and five hits. Clifford worked the final six innings in relief, allowing three hits and one run while striking out three.
Tompkins, Meeks, Meyer and Jamie Schloredt had the Hornets’ hits in the game. Tompkins finished the doubleheader 3-for-8 with two runs and two RBIs, and Meeks went 2-for-5 with two walks. Tompkins, Meeks and Schloredt were the only Hornets to hit safely in both games.
Sacramento State will host doubleheaders next week against Santa Clara on both Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, at noon. Hornet seniors Teri Ann Caoagan, Melissa Cross, Meyer, Johnson and Tompkins, as well as Meeks will be honored prior to Sunday’s doubleheader for their contributions to the program. Sunday's doubleheader will also be the Hornets' final home games of the season.
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