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Late Rallies Give Blugolds Sweep Of Titans

Acacia Tupa hit two home runs and recorded three putouts against the Blugolds.
Acacia Tupa hit two home runs and recorded three putouts against the Blugolds.

The UW-Oshkosh softball team hit four home runs on the day, including two from Acacia Tupa, but UW-Eau Claire overcame late deficits in both games to sweep a doubleheader Friday (April 26) at the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park.

UW-Eau Claire (23-6-1, 9-2-1 WIAC) remained atop the league standings with wins by scores of 4-2 in the opener and 7-6 during the second contest. The Blugolds, who improved to 8-0-1 on the road this season, faced deficits of 2-1 after five innings during the first game and 6-3 after six frames in the nightcap.

UW-Oshkosh (19-15, 5-7 WIAC) fell into a tie for fifth place in the conference with two games left before the five-team WIAC Championship begins next Friday (May 4). The Titans finish league play with a doubleheader at eighth-place UW-River Falls (8-22, 2-10 WIAC) on Sunday (April 28).

In Friday's first game, Tupa gave the Titans a 2-1 lead with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth inning before the Blugolds rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the sixth frame and added an insurance run in the seventh.

UW-Eau Claire claimed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a squeeze bunt from Abbey Place.

UW-Eau Claire starting pitcher Sarah Peka made the run hold up through four scoreless innings until Tupa smacked her two-run homer to right-center field off of UW-Eau Claire relief pitcher Cheyenne Johnson. Grace Stevens preceded Tupa's home run by drawing a out-out walk against Johnson and advancing to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Emma Fionda.

The fateful top of the sixth inning began with two outs and the bases empty as UW-Oshkosh starting pitcher Bailey Smaney limited the Blugolds to five hits over the first 5.2 innings. However, UW-Eau Claire loaded the bases following back-to-back singles and a walk. Gretchen Arneson then drew a walk to score the tying run, and Maria Back was hit by a pitch to bring in the eventual game-winning run.

After the Blugolds tacked on a run during the seventh inning, Johnson retired the side in order in the home half of the seventh frame to earn the victory. Johnson (6-2) allowed two runs on just one hit - Tupa's homer - across the final three innings.

Johnson, Tessa Dachel and Mikayla McEnery each had two of the Blugolds' 10 hits.

Tupa, Kaitlyn Krol and Claire Petrus accounted for the Titans' three hits.

Smaney was charged with the loss after yielding three runs on seven hits in 5.2 innings. She walked three batters and struck out two.

During the nightcap, Menting pulled the Titans within 2-1 with a solo home run, Petrus blasted a two-run homer that gave UW-Oshkosh a 3-2 lead, and Tupa's second home run of the day extended the UW-Oshkosh advantage to 6-3 heading into the final inning.

UW-Eau Claire responded by loading the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh inning. Arneson and Dachel continued the rally with a two-run double and RBI single, respectively, to tie the score at 6 as five consecutive batters reached base to open the inning. With runners at the corners and one out, Johnson lifted a sacrifice fly to center field for the game's go-ahead run.

Krol and Dudek both walked with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Titans stranded the tying run in scoring position after a flyout to center field concluded the game.

McEnery went 3-for-3 with a walk and two runs to pace the Blugolds.

UW-Eau Claire's Jackie Carlucci (3-0) picked up the pitching win in relief despite allowing Tupa's home run in the sixth inning.

Johnson recorded her third save of the season after pitching a scoreless seventh inning. Johnson, making her third relief appearance of the day and second during the nightcap, gave up two runs on two hits and three walks across 2.1 total innings in the second game.

Dudek and Krol reached base three times apiece for UW-Oshkosh as both collected a hit and a pair of walks.

Smaney (12-7) suffered the loss in relief, surrendering five runs on six hits over the final five innings. Petrus, who started in the UW-Oshkosh pitcher's circle, did not factor in the decision after allowing two runs on four hits and two walks across the first two innings.

Katie Fontanetta had two of the Titans' eight hits. Petrus' home run was her team-leading fifth of the season while Menting and Tupa are tied for second on the squad with three apiece. Menting now ranks seventh in UW-Oshkosh history with 17 career home runs.

UW-Oshkosh can clinch a berth into the WIAC Championship with two wins at UW-River Falls on Sunday.

Photo by Steve Frommell