TAMPA, FLA. – Once again, make that twice again, Florida Southern's pitching was at the top of its game in a pair of games against the University of Tampa Saturday that were decided in the final inning, one of them in extras. The Spartans took game one 2-1 on an RBI single by Cristina Clauberg in the bottom of the seventh, and the Moccasins scored twice in the top of the eighth inning in game two to come away with a 3-1 victory.
Game one was another pitching battle between the two teams that saw Kelli Gault turn in a marvelous game for the Moccasins (4-6, 2-4 Sunshine State Conference) and take them into the seventh inning tied 1-1. However, after being held to four hits through the first six innings, Tampa put together three straight singles in the bottom of the seventh, one of them on a bunt just before Clauberg drove in the winning run for a 2-1 Spartan victory.
Aubrey Ehlers, who held Tampa (10-3, 4-2) to just two hits Friday night but suffered a 1-0 loss, took the ball in game two Saturday and again was in command, this time getting a 3-1 win. The senior gave up nine hits in the eight-inning complete game, but three of them were infield singles, only one went for extra bases, and she did not walk a batter. The Spartans got just one runner into scoring position in the last five innings and the Mocs eventually won when Celia Higgins delivered an RBI single in the top of the eighth followed shortly thereafter by a bases-loaded walk from Jessica Trana.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- Less than 24 hours after the teams combined for only five hits in a 1-0 win by Tampa, they had 10 in game one Saturday, seven by the Spartans and three by the Moccasins. Just as they did Friday night, the Spartans got two of theirs in the bottom of the fourth for the first run of the game. Gault got the first two outs of the inning, but it was an infield single by Makaleigh Dooley that gave the Spartans life. Looped over the pitcher's circle, the ball landed softly behind the second base bag, giving shortstop Makayla Deuberry no chance to make a play. Maddie Farrell then hit the next pitch to the fence in right center, driving in Dooley with a double.
- The Moccasins were held to one hit through the first five innings by Sam Worrell, but fought back to tie the game in the top of the sixth. Samantha Prosser's double to right center gave the Mocs their first runner in scoring position, and Higgins made it count two batters later. The freshman third baseman bombed a pitch to deep right over the head of Dooley that went for a triple, knotting the score at 1-1. Following a pitching change that brought Corynn Miner in from third base with two out in the sixth, the Mocs put another runner on base when Zierra Flodman walked, but left them at first and third.
- Gault kept it a 1-1 game by working around a hit batter in the bottom of the sixth, a runner Tampa got to second with a sacrifice bunt. With a chance to put the Spartans back on top, Farrell again hit the ball hard but freshman centerfielder Jadin Dewith went back to haul it in near the warning track in deep center for the final out of the inning.
- Dooley took over pitching duties for the Spartans in the top of the seventh and set the Mocs down in order, giving Tampa a chance to win the game in the bottom of the inning. After Emalee Jansen hit a leadoff single, the Spartans attempted to bunt her into scoring position with Steph Balmer. Balmer did better than that though by pushing the bunt over and between Higgins and Gault for an infield single. Clauberg then singled sharply into right, bringing in Jansen with the winning run.
- That spoiled a complete game by Gault, who gave up only two runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and two walks but fell to 0-4 on the season. Dooley got the win in relief for Tampa, moving to 8-0 with her perfect seventh inning. Worrell went the first 5.2 innings in her first start of the season as a pitcher, and gave up one run on three hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME ONE:
- Prosser had two of Florida Southern's three hits, going 2-for-2 with a double. She singled with two out in the top of the third for the Moccasins' only base runner through the first five innings before her double with one out in the sixth led to their game-tying run. That gave her four hits in her first four starts in leftfield.
- Balmer and Clauberg combined to go 4-for-7 at the top of Tampa's lineup, but the other seven spots were only 3-for-16.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- The bats awoke in game two Saturday, especially for the Moccasins who had 15 hits, all of them off Dooley, who pitched the first 7.2 innings for the Spartans. By the end of the fourth inning, Florida Southern (8) and Tampa (6) had put nearly as many hits on the board as they had totaled in the first two games of the series (15). Their combined hit total reached 17 by the end of the fifth (10-7 in favor of the Mocs), and 20 by the end of the seventh (12-8), but even though both teams had base runners in all but one of those innings, they were still tied 1-1 going into extra innings. The only 1-2-3 frames for either pitcher came from Ehlers in the bottom of the sixth and Dooley in the top of the seventh.
- Tampa scored the first run of the game after Lexie Chevalier led off the bottom of the second with a double. She remained at second after Dooley reached on a fielder's choice and both runners advanced on a bunt by Farrell where the Mocs were again unable to get an out. That loaded the bases with none out, but Ehlers responded to the pressure with three straight outs. One of those was a fly ball by Bailey Phillips that was deep enough to score Chevalier, and Ehlers ended the inning by trapping Dooley in a run-down between third and home.
- Dooley pulled off a similar magic act in the top of the third by giving up just one run in an inning where the Moccasins had five hits. Dewith was thrown out stealing after one of those, but the Mocs got four straight singles after that, one from Higgins who scored, and one from Trana who drove in the run.
- Tampa put together three straight one-out singles in the bottom of the third, but Ehlers slammed the door again with a force out at the plate and another at second to keep the score tied at one. The Mocs would then leave the bases loaded in the top of the sixth, but only after spectacular defense by the Spartans. After Deuberry singled with one out, shortstop Steph Balmer made a back-handed stop on a sharply hit ball by Meghan Sexton and turned it into a force out at second base. A bloop double by Dewith and a walk to Higgins loaded the bases and it appeared Flodman would clear them with a double down the line in left. Instead, Lauren Reyes made the play of the game with a spectacular diving catch that ended the threat.
- In the bottom of the seventh it was the Florida Southern outfield defense on full display with Alex Mace and Dewith both taking hits away from Tampa. Mace made a diving catch in shallow right to deny Balmer at the start of the inning, and Dewith went long into left center to track down a potential game-winning hit by Miner.
- After her big defensive play in the bottom of the seventh, Mace started the top of the eighth with her second hit of the game. Dooley got back-to-back outs after that, but Dewith extended the inning with an infield single just out of the reach of third baseman Sam Worrell. Higgins then singled into center, putting the Mocs ahead 2-1 and knocking Dooley out of the game. Relief pitcher Corynn Miner replaced her and intentionally walked Flodman to load the bases, but followed that with another walk to Trana that forced in Dewith.
- The Spartans got one more hit off Ehlers in the bottom of the eighth when pinch-hitter Sam Kaye legged out an infield single on a slowly hit ball down the first base line, but a fly ball and ground out brought the game to a close. It improved Ehlers' record to 4-2 and lowered her ERA to 1.09. She's given up just two runs in her last three starts. Ehlers had one strikeout and no walks and had also not issued a base on balls in three consecutive starts.
- Dooley suffered her first loss of the year, falling to 8-1. She gave up three runs on 15 hits with four strikeouts and one walk, and Saturday marked the first time in eight starts this year she did not finish the game.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS OF GAME TWO:
- Dooley had not given up more than five hits in any of her previous seven starts this season, and was averaging just 3.6 allowed per seven innings coming into the game. Her walk to Higgins in the sixth inning was just the second time this season she walked a batter.
- Five Moccasins had at least two hits, and three of them also had a walk. Dewith went 3-for-5, Higgins was 2-for-4 with a walk, Flodman was 3-for-4 with a walk, and Trana was 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBI.
- Mace went 2-for-4 and was making her first career start in right field. The junior had previously started 44 games at second base, six at first, three behind the plate, and 26 as the DP. She handled two chances in the field, one of them the hit-saving catch against Balmer in the bottom of the seventh.
- Sexton could have easily added her name to the multi-hit Moccasins too. She lost one on the back-handed stop by Balmer in the sixth, and another in the eighth when Mace was forced at second on a ball hit into right field.
- Prosser, Deuberry, and Maddi Conner all had hits as well, contributing to the most by Florida Southern since the Mocs had 17 in a 9-1 win at Eckerd on February 17, 2017.
- Though Tampa took two-out-of-three over the weekend, Florida Southern still leads the all-time series, 76-46. The final game marked the fourth extra-inning game between them in the last three years, and the Mocs have won three of them.
Florida Southern travels to Clermont for a pair of neutral-site games on Tuesday facing Kentucky Wesleyan at 2:15 p.m., and Davenport (Mich.) at 4:30 p.m.