Claire Petrus pitched four hitless innings in relief and Erika Berry homered and drove in the decisive run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning during the first game of the day as the UW-Oshkosh softball team split a pair of contests on Saturday (March 18) in Clermont, Fla.
UW-Oshkosh (7-3) outlasted Hope College (Mich.), 6-5, in eight innings during the opener before Benedictine University (Ill.) secured a 4-2 win in the Titans' second contest of the day.
Petrus entered the game for UW-Oshkosh starting pitcher Sara Brunlieb with Hope College runners at first and third bases, no outs and the Titans clinging to a 5-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
The Flying Dutch cut their deficit to 5-4 on an outfield error, but Petrus induced a double play off the bat of Hope College's Katie Singer as the tying run scored. Petrus then got a groundout to end the threat.
Petrus set down Hope College in order during the sixth and seventh innings, while UW-Oshkosh loaded the bases with no outs in the home half of the seventh frame.
Kaitlyn Krol led off the UW-Oshkosh seventh inning with a double before Abby Menting was walked intentionally and Brianna Witter reached on an infield error. However, Flying Dutch relief pitcher Tena Baar sent the game to extra innings by recording three consecutive strikeouts.
With a Hope College runner at second base to begin the eighth inning, Petrus recorded an out before an infield error put Flying Dutch at first and third bases. Sydney Jones then laced a line drive to Titans second baseman Amanda McIlhany, whose ensuing throw to Krol at first base beat a diving runner to complete an inning-ending double play.
McIlhany began the UW-Oshkosh eighth inning on second base and went to third on a leadoff bunt single by Caitlin Hoerning. After a fielder's choice and a stolen base by Fionda put Titans and second and third bases with one out, Berry lifted her game-winning sacrifice fly to right field as McIlhany's head-first dive into home plate narrowly beat the throw.
Hope College (2-1) scored a run in the top of the first inning on a single by Shay Pinhey, but UW-Oshkosh answered with a pair of runs on three hits and two errors in the home half of the first frame as Fionda crossed the plate on an outfield error ahead of Dudek's two-out single that scored Berry.
UW-Oshkosh extended its lead to 3-1 in the second inning as Fionda reached on a bunt single and came around to score on a two-out wild pitch.
The Flying Dutch received a two-out RBI single from Sierra Mutschler to cut UW-Oshkosh's lead to 3-2 in the top of the third inning, but a single by McIlhany plated Dudek in the bottom of the frame for a 4-2 advantage.
Berry launched a solo home run - her second of the season - to center field to increase UW-Oshkosh's lead to 5-2 after four innings before Hope College rallied to tie the score in the fifth frame.
Brunlieb surrendered three straight singles to open the fifth inning, including a run-scoring hit to Haley Rietsma that ended her outing. Brunlieb pitched four-plus innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on 10 hits. She walked one and struck out three.
Petrus (1-0) recorded four strikeouts without issuing a walk to pick up her first career win.
Singer pitched the first three innings for the Flying Dutch, yielding four runs on six hits.
Hope College relief pitcher Shelby Steele limited the Titans to one run in 2.2 innings, while Baar (1-1) took the loss after giving up an unearned run in two-plus innings.
Sammi Adams paced the Flying Dutch with three bunt singles and two runs scored while Pinhey and Rietsma both collected a pair of hits.
UW-Oshkosh outhit Hope College, 11-10, while the Flying Dutch committed three errors and the Titans two.
In the setback to Benedictine University, the Eagles scored all their runs in the bottom of the second inning. The Titans cut their deficit to 4-2 with a pair of unearned runs in top of the third inning, but Eagles starting pitcher Holly Haberkorn worked around UW-Oshkosh baserunners in each frame.
Haberkorn (2-0) scattered 11 hits and registered two strikeouts to earn the complete-game victory.
UW-Oshkosh left 10 runners on base while Benedictine University stranded just two as a pair of Titan pitchers limited the Eagles to five hits. The Titans left the bases loaded in the second inning and two more in the third frame before bringing the potential game-winning run to the plate in the seventh.
Benedictine University (2-1) loaded the bases to begin the decisive second inning off UW-Oshkosh starting pitcher Clare Robbe. Brittany Clark, the fourth Eagle to bat in the inning, followed with a run-scoring single ahead of Kassee Johnson's two-run double.
Robbe recorded a strikeout for the first out of the inning, but Kaitlyn Velazquez provided a sacrifice fly for a 4-0 lead.
The Titans scored their first run on an infield throwing error, and Witter followed with a two-out RBI single, but Haberkorn escaped further damage by getting a popup with runners on first and second bases.
Brunlieb pitched three hitless innings with three strikeouts in relief of Robbe, but Haberkorn allowed back-to-back two-out singles to Menting and Lauren Torborg in the top of the seventh inning before preserving the win by getting a flyout to conclude the game.
Torborg went 3-for-4 while Menting added a pair of hits for the Titans.
UW-Oshkosh has won six of its seven meetings with Hope College, including the last five matchups. The Titans and Benedictine University met for the first time since splitting two games in 1999.
UW-Oshkosh remains in Clermont to play University of Chicago (Ill.) and Bowdoin College (Maine) on Sunday (March 19).
Photo by Paul Fionda