Seventh-Inning Sac Fly by Roberts Gives FSC Game One Win Over PBA; Sailfish Take Game Two for a Split

Maggie Roberts
Maggie Roberts

LAKELAND – Senior Maggie Roberts delivered a rare walk-off sacrifice fly to give Florida Southern a 3-2 win over Palm Beach Atlantic in the first game of Saturday's makeup doubleheader, but Rachel Hill tossed a 1-hit shutout in game two for the Sailfish, leading them to an 8-0 win after a lengthy weather delay stopped play in the seventh inning.

The Moccasins (11-22-1) scored the first two runs of game one in the bottom of the first inning when their first three batters all reached safely. Senior Jordan Alexander drew a leadoff walk and junior Erin Klein followed her by putting a bunt down the third base line that went for an infield single. With no one immediately covering the bag, Alexander continued running to third and Klein was able to take second as the Sailfish scrambled to make a play. Junior Erica Morrissey then drove a pitch into left center for a 2-run double that put the Mocs ahead 2-0.

The Sailfish (21-13) cut the deficit in half in the top of the third inning when leadoff batter Kayla Knight reached on an error and scored on a 2-out double by Theresa Butler. They tied the score one inning later on an RBI single by Maddie Bertisch after a leadoff walk to Victoria Boyer and another Moccasin error put a runner at third.

Meanwhile, the Sailfish had also gone to the bullpen and replaced starting pitcher Nikki Brinegar with Amber Johnson to start the bottom of the third. After working out of a bases-loaded jam in her first inning of work that included base hits by freshmen Jessica Trana and Zierra Flodman, Johnson limited the Moccasins to only three base runners in the fourth through sixth innings.

The Moccasins eventually went to their bullpen too with junior Sydney Koch taking over for junior Hannah Loyer in the top of the sixth. Koch entered the game with Brianna Rano already on base with a walk and a 3-0 count on Knight, which also resulted in a walk. But when Bertisch attempted to sacrifice and was hit by her own bunted ball, the Mocs got an out without giving up a base and Koch got another ground out before intentionally walking Victoria Gonzalez. A fly ball to right by Butler ended the inning and kept the game knotted at 2-2.

In the bottom of the seventh, Klein led off with a double down the leftfield line and took third on a bunt by Morrissey. Roberts then drove a pitch to deep center that Knight caught, but there was no chance to throw out Klein who tagged at third and easily scored the winning run. It was only the third time in team history the Moccasins won a game on a walk-off sacrifice fly, and the first time they'd done it in eight years. The last time it happened was also against Palm Beach Atlantic in a 1-0, 10-inning victory in 2008 provided by Tori Mosley.

That run made a winner of Koch, who pitched 2.0 innings, gave up one hit and one walk to even her record at 4-4. She also had a base hit in her only at-bat after coming into the game in the sixth inning. Loyer gave up just two unearned runs on four hits in her five-plus innings of work while striking out five and walking seven.

Florida Southern had six hits off Brinegar and Johnson, with Klein picking up two of those. Flodman had a hit and a walk, and Morrissey had a walk and two sacrifice bunts in addition to her 2-run double in the first inning. The Moccasins did not strike out either for the second game in a row against PBA pitching. Johnson ended up with the loss even after giving up only one run on four hits, dropping her record to 8-1.

Game two stood at 1-0 before the Sailfish blew it open with four runs in the sixth and three in the seventh. Prior to that the only run scored in the top of the third inning when Bertisch put down a bunt single and came around on a double by Ali French. That was the only run the Sailfish scored in four innings against junior Brandi Jones, who gave up seven hits, struck out two and walked one. She fell to 5-10 on the season though she gave up only two runs in her two starts in the series against Palm Beach Atlantic.

PBA would later get RBI singles from Bertisch in the sixth and seventh innings, as well as a 2-run single from Gonzalez in the seventh that was the last play before the game was stopped by lightning. After a wait of 2½ hours and more threatening weather moving in, officials called the game, marking the second time in the series a game was stopped short of the full seven innings. It was also the third time in the last eight days the Moccasins had that happen after it had occurred to them only twice during the previous 16½ years.

Sophomore Amber Presto had the Moccasins' only hit off Hill, a third-inning double that followed a walk by Worcester and put Florida Southern runners at second and third with none out. Hill got out of trouble with two outs on the infield to keep the runners where they were and Butler saved two runs by making a spectacular diving catch from her second base position on a ball headed up the middle off the bat of Erin Klein.

Hill retired 10 of the last 11 Moccasin batters, with only a second walk to Worcester in the fifth inning to break that up. She struck out two and walked two as she improved to 10-6 with her second weather-shortened shutout of the 3-game series. She had to go just five innings in a 1-0 win on Friday in another game that had been first postponed and then re-scheduled by rain throughout central Florida.

The Moccasins will be on the road next weekend, April 1-2, for a 3-game series against Florida Tech. Game one is Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.