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Game #3: #3 LIU Brooklyn 1, #1 Robert Morris 0
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Moon Township, PA -- Day two of the NEC Softball Championships opened with a terrific pitchers duel between two longtime rivals, but in the end it was a longball that sent #3 seed LIU Brooklyn to Saturday's title game with a 1-0 triumph over top seed and tourney host Robert Morris.
It was a scoreless game through six, until LIU’s Sterling Hoham (Norco, CA/Riverside Christian) stepped to the plate and blasted a bomb over the centerfield fence to put the Blackbirds up 1-0. The homer proved to be all the support Cassie Vondrak (Carson City, NV/Western Nevada College) needed as the sophomore tossed her second straight shutout in the tournament and allowed the Blackbirds to punch their ticket to Championship Saturday.
Vondrak yielded just six hits over seven innings for LIU (24-33). She did not walk a batter and struck out three to improve to 11-6 on the year.
Robert Morris (35-21) freshman sensation Nicole Sleith (Smithton, PA/Yough) also tossed the complete game, striking out seven without issuing a single walk.
RMU's best chance to plate a run came in the third inning when Chelsea Siar (Glenshaw, PA/Shaler Area) singled and advanced to second on a ground out. Tess Apke (Mt. Lebanon, PA/Mt. Lebonon) then singled to left, but Siar was gunned down at the plate by LIU's Karina Cervantes.
The Blackbirds advance to tomorrow’s 12:30 pm championship game, while Robert Morris will face the loser of Quinnipiac-Monmouth later today at 4:00 pm.
Game #4: #2 Quinnipiac 4, #4 Monmouth 1
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Moon Township, PA -- The bats came alive for the Bobcats in game four of the NEC Tournament as senior outfielder Mina Duffy (Piedmont, CA/Piedmont) tallied two RBIs and three hits to give #2 Quinnipiac the 4-1 victory over #4 Monmouth in Moon Township on Friday afternoon. The win allows the Bobcats to stay alive and face #1 Robert Morris in an elimination game to determine who will play in Saturday’s championship against #3 LIU Brooklyn. With the loss, Monmouth was eliminated from the tournament and finished the season with a 24-20 record.
In the first inning, Quinnipiac's Christy Cabrera (West Sacramento, CA/River City) reached on a throwing error and then headed second on the next play on another throwing error. She advanved to third on teammate Alex Alba's (Sylmar, CA/Sylmar) ground out then scored on Duffy's ground out to short, ended the inning with the Bobcats leading 1-0. Quinnipiac continued the offensive action in the second as catcher Ashley Heiberger (Sioux Falls, SD/Lincoln) was hit by a pitch to start the inning and eventually scored on a passed ball to give the Bobcats the 2-0 advantage through two innings of play.
Monmouth answered back in the fourth as Kayla Weiser (Vandergrift, PA/Kiski Area) started off the inning with a double and crossed home following a Chelsea Paprocki (Manassas, VA/Forest Park) single, but that was all the offense the Hawk bats would muster on the afternoon.
In the sixth the Quinnipiac bats continued make noise as Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, CT/Amity) laced a single down the leftfield line. Kesses then advanced to second after Cabrera sent a single into centerfield. Jacquie Ristow (Seal Beach, CA/Los Alamitos) reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing Cabrera to advance and Kesses to score off a throwing error. The next batter was Duffy, who singled to right, plating Cabrera for run number four for the Bobcats.
Senior hurler Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, CA/Capistrano Valley) went the distance for the Bobcats, scattering seven hits while striking out three. The first team All-Conference honoree improves to 19-6 on the year.
Monmouth’s Lauren Sulick (Canfield, OH/Canfield) gave up four runs - two of which were earned - in six innings. She permitted six hits and fanned four batters.
Game #5: #2 Quinnipiac 4, #1 Robert Morris 3
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Moon Township, PA -- It took 12 innings but #2 Quinnipiac emerged victorious over #1 Robert Morris, 4-3, on Friday evening in Moon Township in the longest game in NEC Softball Tournament history. With the win the Bobcats advanced to Saturday's championship game to face #3 LIU Brooklyn, which posted a 1-0 win over the Colonials earlier in the day. The Colonials were ousted from the double elimination tournament.
With her career hanging in the balances, Bobcat senior catcher Ashley Heiberger (Sioux Falls, SD/Lincoln) picked a good time to post her only hit of the game, an RBI single to centerfield which scored junior shortstop Alex Alba (Sylmar, CA/Sylmar) and gave the Bobcats the 4-3 advantage in the top of the 12th inning.
Quinnipiac's (32-17) Heather Schwartzburg (Mission Viejo, CA/Capistrano Valley) collected her 20th win of the season after she pitched 9.2 innings of seven-hit relief. She only yielded two unearned runs while striking out 11.
Quiet through two, the offense got going in the third as Quinnipiac’s Lauren Salgado (Covina, CA/Bishop Amat Memorial) posted an infield single. Christy Cabrera (West Sacramento, CA/River City) was up next and singled down the left field line to allow Salgado to advance to second. Jaquie Ristow (Seal Beach, CA/Los Alamitos) then reached first on a bunt single, loading the bases for Alba. The California native singled to left field, bringing home Salgado and advancing both Cabrera and Ristow. Nikki Barba (San Diego, CA/Mt. Carmel) followed with a single to center, scoring Cabrera to make it 2-0. Kortney Kesses (Woodbridge, CT/Amity) was then hit by a pitch, brining home Katie Donohue (Walpole, MA/Bishop Feehan), who had come in to pinch run for Ristow, and the inning ended with the Bobcats up 3-0.
Robert Morris (35-22) answered right back as Jessica Calderone (Wilmington, DE/ St. Mark’s) came aboard off a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a single from the bat of Sarah Capp (McKees Rocks, PA/Montour). Calderone reached third on a Jaci Timko (Houston, PA/Chartiers Houston) single to left and then scored on a wild pitch to put the Colonials on the board.
In the sixth the Colonials stormed back to tie the score at 3-3. The inning started with Timko singling to right field. 2012 Golden Glove award winner Samantha Santillo (Ellwood City, PA/Lincoln) followed with an infield single and advanced to second on the throw while Timko headed to third. Maritza Jimenez (Vineland, NJ/Vineland) came in to pinch hit and reached on a fielding error, sending Patton to third and Timko home for the unearned run, bringing the score to 3-2. Chelsea Evans (Beaver Falls, PA/Riverside) came into pinch run for Jimenez and promptly stole second allowing Patton to steal home, knotting the score at 3-3.
Neither team could put forth the go-ahead run over the next five innings as QU's Schwartzburg along with the RMU tandem of Nicole Sleith (Smithton, PA/Yough) and Geena Badolato (Mt. Lebanon, PA/Mt. Lebanon) shut down opposing hitters, allowed a combined eight hits over that span.
The 12th and final inning started with Alba posting a single. She then reached second off of a Duffy sacrifice. Barba drilled a single to center and Alba stood on third when Heiberger came to the plate and punched in the winning run.
Tomorrow’s championship game between the #2 Bobcats and #3 Blackbirds is slated for 12:30 pm and can be seen via web stream at www.northeastconference.tv. If Quinnipiac wins, then a decisive seventh game will be played with the winner heading to the NCAA Tournament.