Beavers' Valiant Comeback In Regional Opener Comes Up Short
May 18, 2012
NORMAN, Okla. - It took three hours and 32 minutes, lasted 11 innings and forced the two teams to throw a combined 415 pitches, and when it was finally over the Oregon State softball team had lost a thrilling game, 9-7, to Tulsa in its NCAA Regional opener in Norman, Okla. on Friday night.
The Beavers (34-22), trailing 7-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, used a furious rally to storm back into the game. They scored four times on five hits to force extra innings in what would eventually became OSU's longest game since a 12-inning, 3-2 loss to No. 1 Arizona State on April 5, 2008.
With its backs up against the wall, Oregon State's first three batters in the seventh all reached base to give the team a glimmer of hope. Dani Gilmore, Hannah Bouska and Elizabeth Santana all had nearly identical singles with textbook approaches right back up the middle. Erin Guzy drove in the first two with a single to left center and then advanced to second on the throw home. Desiree Beltran brought home Santana and Guzy with a single of her own down the line in right field and when the inning was over and the score was tied 7-7 that glimmer had become a bright light.
From that point forward the two teams would trade punches back and forth with neither able to push across the deciding run. Oregon State had its best chance in the eighth when Gilmore and Santana put two on with two outs by way of walks. Guzy hit a shot at the shortstop and Gilmore didn't break stride rounding third looking to score the winning run, but Tulsa's throw came to the plate and, despite a seemingly perfect slide, Gilmore was called out to end the inning.
Tulsa (42-12) had two on in the ninth with one out when Guzy stepped up big defensively, snagging a line drive off the bat of Julie Kernen and diving back to the bag at first to double up Lacey Middlebrooks.
The Golden Hurricane loaded the bases in the 10th, but couldn't score and Oregon State had two on in the bottom half of that inning and was unable to break the deadlock. In the 11th, Jessica Stoelke hit a one-out, two-run double to put her team ahead to stay, 9-7.
Prior to the 7th inning, the game did not look promising for OSU, as four Beaver errors helped stake Tulsa to that 7-3 lead.
Oregon State had two runners on in the first when, with one out, Bouska tapped a swinging bunt down the first base line. The Beaver sophomore stole second and tagged up to advance to third on a deep fly ball on center off the bat of Santana. Guzy worked a full count before drawing a walk and then promptly stole second, but Tulsa's Middlebrooks was able to get a strikeout swinging to end the threat.
Tulsa got on the board in the second when it scored three runs on two hits. Shelby Blanton led off with a single through the right side and Stoelke tried to sacrifice her to second, but the Beavers' throw to first was off the mark and the Golden Hurricane had runners at the corners with nobody out. They loaded the bases with one away before Caitlin Everett cleared the trio with a triple into the right-center field gap. Paige Hall would come on for Oregon State in the circle to get the last two outs and limit the damage.
The Beavers trimmed the lead in their half of the second when Beltran led off with a grounder to shortstop that was thrown away by Samantha Cobb. Beltran advanced to second and was run for by Maggie Doremus, who moved to third on a groundout by Hall and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly courtesy of Ally Kutz to make the score 3-1.
OSU tied things up in the third to make it 3-3. Gilmore led off with a single and alertly advanced to second when Tulsa kicked the ball into foul territory trying to make the play. She stole third and scored when Guzy tapped a grounder to short. The Beaver senior hustled down the line and beat the throw, stole second herself and scored the tying run when Lea Cavestany doubled to left center.
Caitlin Everett continued her good day for the Golden Hurricane when she drove in her fourth run of the game with an RBI single in the fourth to put her team on top, 4-3. On the next pitch, Jill Barrett hit a grounder to third base that glanced off Oregon State's glove to score one and Samantha Cobb singled home another to put the Beavers in a 6-3 hole. Cobb was thrown out trying to stretch her single into a double to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Skylar Swanson hit her 10th home run of the season for Tulsa to extend the lead to 7-3 before the late-inning drama began to unfold.
Gilmore, Bouska, Guzy and Cavestany all had two hits for Oregon State and Guzy lead the charge with three RBI. Gilmore stole two bases to give her 15 this season and move into a tie for third in OSU history in that category.
The Beavers' 12 hits were their third most in a game this season and the most in a postseason contest since they used 15 base knocks to beat Louisville, 11-4, at the Ann Arbor Regional on May 19, 2007.
Oregon State will take on Lehigh in an elimination game tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 p.m. CT/1:30 p.m. PT. If victorious, the Beavers will play again right after against the loser of the tilt between Oklahoma and Tulsa that begins at 1 p.m. CT/11 a.m.
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