Freshman pitcher Melissa Rahrich prepares for a pitch against Hartford on Wednesday, April 26. Rahrich closed out an America East playoff game against the Hawks with the bases loaded. MARIE MATSUNAGA/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook Softball avenged its first loss of the America East tournament by eliminating Hartford in a 7-3 win Thursday afternoon. Freshman Taylor Pechin made a spot start as the designated player and hit a three-run home run in the third inning, the first of her career, which would prove to be the difference in the ballgame.

The Seawolves had jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the third inning, but the freshman broke the game wide open. Pechin’s long home run to left center field extended the team’s lead to six and made the run-ahead rule seem like a plausible path to victory. Stony Brook had won against Hartford via the run-ahead rule twice during the regular season.

Stony Brook sophomore starting pitcher Lindsey Hughes was tasked with preserving her team’s season in the circle, and she delivered one of her best starts of the season. Through the first five innings, Hartford only mustered up two hits against the sophomore. Hughes went six and one-third innings, surrendering three runs before being relieved.

Hughes was relieved in the top of the seventh inning by yesterday’s hero, freshman pitcher Melissa Rahrich. The freshman came into the game with the bases loaded with Hawks and only one out.

The ace was able to deliver out of the bullpen.

She induced a ground out and then struck out senior third baseman Danielle DeMarco to end the game. Rahrich locked down her third save of the season and appeared in her third game of the America East tournament. The staff workhorse has continued to eat up innings, pitching 14.2 innings in three games within 24 hours.

The freshman, who started the game at first base, collected her sixth hit of the tournament. Her lone hit on the day gives her a .600 batting average through three games. She collected her first RBI of the postseason on a double in the first inning that gave the team an early 1-0 lead.  

Sophomore catcher Irene Rivera continued swinging a hot bat, picking up two more hits and driving in two RBIs. The catcher’s five RBIs leads all players in the tournament thus far in postseason play.

Junior center fielder Elizabeth Newkirk was the sole source of the Hawk’s offense. The senior drove in all three of Hartford’s runs and had two hits off Hughes.

Stony Brook returns to play tomorrow at 1 p.m. against Binghamton with both teams one loss away from elimination. The Seawolves swept the top-seeded Bearcats during the regular season.