By Cassie Logan | UTAMavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- An exciting walk-off squeeze bunt in the 10th inning for UTA softball evened a SBC series against Georgia Southern Saturday at Allan Saxe Field.
Down 8-6 in the bottom of the ninth, Cy’Andria Newton and Krista Rude punched RBI singles to prevent a series win for the Eagles after their run-rule victory in Game 1. Both teams were deadlocked at eight until the 10th frame, when Mallory Foster tripled to center and Aileen Garcia was once again the hero in extras, laying down a squeeze bunt to plate the winning run.
UTA (17-14, 3-5 SBC) clipped Georgia Southern (14-15, 4-4) 9-8 in the nightcap to erase an 11-3 run-rule in the first game. The all-time series remains a split at four wins each for the programs. Each team has won its previous home series with Arlington coming up victorious in 2015. The finale to decide the series is set for noon Sunday at Allan Saxe Field.
The Eagles held the Sun Belt’s second-best offense to just three hits in the first game, including a 2-for-3 performance from Rude. The Mavs fell victim to four defensive errors.
Georgia Southern struck early in the bottom of the first. Sam Clakley (12-8) struggled to find a groove, allowing a leadoff single and pair of walks, paving way for a two-RBI single.
UTA posted a pair of its own in the bottom of the second. Shelbi Sikes reached on a throwing error to plate a walk from Garcia. Kasey Everett’s sacrifice fly sent another across to tie it up. Garcia gave the Mavs their first lead of the day in the third with an RBI-single.
Momentum swung toward the Georgia Southern dugout in the fourth and fifth innings as its offense combined for nine runs on six hits, including a two-run homer from Lydia Witkowski. UTA committed three errors in the fifth to build the case for a run-rule.
Clakely received the loss in her four innings. The sophomore tossed seven runs, four earned, on eight hits, five walks and four punchouts. Freshman Mariah Denson was responsible for four runs on one hit in her lone inning.
2016 SBC Freshman of the Year Dixie Raley improved to 8-9, tossing three runs on five hits and four strikeouts.
Georgia Southern continued movement in Game 2, scoring first on a single before Walton powered one of her own to wipe the scoring slate clean at 1-1. The Mavericks’ half included a double from Sandra Mendoza, tying her with Meagan Michele for sixth all-time at 32. Mendoza is now one extra base-hit away from breaking into the career top-10, tying Kristi Bryant and Katy Hermann with 40.
UTA earned a comfortable lead in the bottom of the third as Mendoza reached on a fielding error and Rude singled. Both were pushed across by Walton’s second triple of the season. Foster registered another run on a groundout to bring Walton home, 4-1.
Georgia Southern regained a lead in the top of the fifth as Clakely took control of the circle for Sam Montes. The Eagles strung together five runs on five hits, but the lead wouldn’t last with UTA’s pestering offense.
Reagan Wright singled on two outs and a pinch-hit knock from Marisa Datko ignited a rally. Pinch hitter Bri Burchianti tripled to send both to the dish to even the game at six apiece. The Eagles blasted a two-run shot in the ninth to up the lead, but UTA had the last word the following frame.
The Mavericks combined for 16 hits to the Eagles' 12. Four Mavs had multi-hit games. Rude and Walton were both 3-for-5 with a run, Walton adding three RBI. Garcia was 3-for-6 with a run and RBI.
Denson earned the win to improve to 2-6 on the year. The freshman gave up three runs on four hits and four walks. Starter Sam Montes handed out just one run on five hits and two strikeouts.
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