Stony Brook Softball found themselves in a scoring opportunity to break a 2-2 tie against the UMBC Retrievers in the bottom of the ninth at University Field Wednesday afternoon. Sophomore pinch hitter Allyssa Malony led off the inning with a single and advanced to second off a sacrifice bunt by sophomore right fielder Jourdin Hering. The slugging junior catcher Irene Rivera came up to the plate and looked to close out the game for the Seawolves.
“You know, the game-winning hit, I have been in that position before,” Rivera said. “I just knew that I had to stay small and that I had to bring in the runner on [second base]. I knew they would pitch me outside every time so I was just going to drive that pitch and hopefully get a run in and that’s what I did.”
Rivera pounced at a first pitch fastball outside the plate and drove it to right-center field to bring Malony home and give the Seawolves a 3-2 extra innings victory over their America East conference rivals. The game was the first time the Seawolves have won off a walkoff hit this season and improved the team’s conference record to 8-6.
UMBC got on the board early after senior centerfielder Tori Alexander walked to lead off the game. Alexander stole second and just beat the throw by Rivera before scoring off a single to right-center field by sophomore designated hitter Valerie Hammett to give her team a 1-0 lead. The Retrievers would load the bases but were unable to add on to the lead in the top of the first.
Stony Brook responded in the bottom of the inning beginning with their new leadoff hitter, sophomore pitcher Melissa Rahrich. Rahrich crushed a 1-2 pitch over the center field wall for her fifth home run of the season to tie the game at one. Assistant coach Benet Higgs spoke about the process behind changing the lineup late in the season following the victory.
“At this point in the year, we wanted to spice things up a little bit and see some people in some different spots in preparation for the conference tournament,” Higgs said. “You know Mel has been doing an awesome job and we have been seeing where other people can step up at different positions in the lineup.”
The Seawolves added another run later in the inning after Rivera singled to center field and advanced to second on a ground out. Sophomore third baseman Riley Craig singled to left-center field and drove home Rivera to give the team a 2-1 lead. Senior left fielder Ileana Torres was unable to drive Craig home despite her advancing to second base off of the throw to the plate in the prior at bat.
Neither team scored until the top of the seventh inning after the Retrievers got two consecutives batters to reach base with infield singles. Sophomore pitcher Taylor Pechin replaced Rahrich after six innings of work but allowed another infield hit to load the bases. UMBC sophomore shortstop Maddie Daigneau grounded out into a fielder’s choice to score freshman second baseman Julia Keffler to tie the game at two.
The team rebounded from a rocky weekend with a 3-0 victory over Seton Hall Tuesday afternoon at Mike Sheppard, Sr. Field in South Orange, New Jersey.
“We played well today and [junior pitcher Lindsey Hughes] threw a great game,” head coach Megan T. Bryant said in a press release. “Our energy and focus were good.”
Bryant elected to go with a new starting lineup on both sides of the field. Hughes started her first game this season on the rubber and sophomore catcher Jordyn Nowakowski got her first start behind the plate. Offensively, Rahrich batted in the lead-off position while Rivera moved up from the clean-up spot to bat third.
The line-up swaps garnered success for Stony Brook early as the team got on the board to begin the game. Rahrich reached base after being hit by a pitch and advanced to second off a wild pitch from Seton Hall sophomore pitcher Reganne Camp. Camp’s erratic pitching cost her as Rahrich was able to score on a wild pitch after she advanced to third on a ground out to give the Seawolves a 1-0 lead.
Both teams reached base in the following innings, but neither was able to drive home base runners until the top of the fifth. Rivera singled up the middle to drive home freshman pinch runner Danielle Petrovich, increasing the Stony Brook lead to two runs. Hughes drove in junior centerfielder Katelyn Corr in the following at bat off Pirates freshman first baseman Baylee Allender’s error, extending the lead to 3-0, the eventual final score.
Hughes responded to getting the call to start well, shutting down the Pirates offense. The junior recorded her best pitching performance of the season and threw the first complete game of her collegiate career. She finished the game having only allowed three hits while striking out six Pirates batters.
Stony Brook is currently fourth in the America East standings. The Seawolves will begin their final series for the America East conference when they face the Maine Black Bears Friday afternoon. It will be the first time the two teams have met this season and will affect where both teams will rank to end the season. Higgs talked about the importance of attacking Maine to close out the season strong.
“We have the opportunity to push ourselves into second place,” Higgs said. “A lot of it is getting in there and seeing how we match up against another team. Being in the America East we are looking to win the conference tournament.”
Stony Brook will end the regular season against Maine beginning on Friday, May 4 at 12 p.m. at University Field.