Princeton Squeaks by Villanova in Late Innings
March 19, 2011
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Villanova (7-12) fell in their second one-run decision of the past three games to Princeton (7-12) in a final score of 2-1. Princeton got solo home runs in the fourth and sixth innings to tie the game and then take the lead for the victory.
Junior Molly Manning (Ponte Verde Beach, Fla.) started for the Wildcats and settled into a groove quickly setting down the first six batters that she faced with the help of some very good defense behind her. Junior Tessa Braga (Scottsdale, Ariz.) chased down a deep fly ball in foul territory for the second out in the first inning and freshman shortstop Ali Lowe (West Palm Beach, Fla.) backhanded a ball deep in the hole in shortstop and made a strong throw to first to beat the runner for the second out in the second inning.
Villanova took the early lead in the top of the second when sophomore first baseman Valerie Ortega (Ventura, Calif.) reached on an error and advanced to second. Junior Kristi Burlin (Roseville, Calif.) then wasted no time singling Ortega home for her 3rd RBI of the year and a 1-0 Wildcat lead. Lowe added a two-out single later in the inning, but sophomore Julie Smith (Dana Point, Calif.) went down on strikes to end the rally.
Villanova had another chance to add some insurance runs and extend their lead when sophomore second baseman Taylor Olafson (Jacksonville, Fla.) hit a bunt single to lead off the inning. She was advanced to second and third base on consecutive groundouts, but sophomore Amanda Marquez popped out to third to strand Olafson at third.
Manning ran into her first bit of trouble in the bottom of the third when Lizzy Pierce hit a lead-off double over Braga's head in left, then she was bunted to third by the next hitter to put the tying run 60 feet away. Manning then helped herself by running down a weak pop up for the second out and Ali Lowe snared a hump-back line drive to get Villanova out of the inning unscathed.
After Princeton pitcher Michelle Tolfa set down the Wildcats in order in their half of the fourth, Princeton tied the game on a lead-off home run in the bottom of the fourth by right fielder Candace Button. That was followed by a single up the middle, but Manning got more good defense from her teammates, this time from Kristi Burlin who ran down a popped up sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out of the inning. After Burlin caught another pop-up for the second out, a two-out single put the go-ahead run at second base. Burlin then made the third out of the inning herself by running down another foul pop up to keep the score locked at 1-1 heading to the fifth.
In the top half of the fifth, Villanova nearly tied the game on a deep drive to center by Julie Smith, but it was run down on the warning track by Tigers' centerfielder Nicole Ontiveros. After Olafson was hit by a pitch and junior Shannon O'Brien (Roseville, Calif.) reached by error with two outs, junior Jamie O'Hara (Lithia, Fla.) stepped to the plate with a chance to put Villanova on top. O'Hara has been one of Villanova's most consistent hitters of late, but she ground sharply to third to end the inning.
Manning was able to bring the Wildcats right back into the dugout after a quick 1-2-3 inning in which she contributed to all of the defensive outs in the bottom of the fifth. However, Villanova was unable to capitalize on the momentum as Michelle Tolfa continued to silence the Wildcat bats.
With the score still tied at one, Princeton snapped the tie in the bottom of the sixth in the same way that they scored their first run of the game. Kelsey VandeBergh hit a one-out solo home-run to right center field to push Princeton's lead to 2-1 heading into the Wildcats' final at-bat in the top of the seventh.
Molly Manning got the rally started with a single through the right side, for the fourth Wildcat hit of the day and put the tying run on first. Ali Lowe sacrificed freshman pinch runner Alyssa Lodato (Greenwich, Conn.) to second and Julie Smith moved the runner to third on a groundout to the first baseman. That brought Olafson to the plate with the tying run standing on third, but she grounded out to third on a close play at first base to seal the 2-1 victory for Princeton.
Manning (2-4, ERA) pitched well in her first start in two weeks, but Villanova was unable to push across the tying run late. Manning threw her fourth complete game of the season, surrendering five hits, two earned runs, striking out one, and walking none.
The Wildcats will try to close out the University of Maryland tournament on a high note with a rematch against the Maryland Terrapins tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.