Thunderbirds Sweep Doubleheader With Bengals
CEDAR CITY, Utah - There was offense aplenty Friday afternoon as the Southern Utah softball team hosted the Idaho State Bengals for the first two games of a three-game Big Sky series. The Thunderbirds used two grand slams and a walk-off solo home run to win both games and take the series with still one game left on Saturday.
“I thought today was a great team effort. I told the team after that first game, anybody that didn’t have a hit made a fabulous defensive play. It was a total contribution,” head coach Tom Gray said after both wins. “Kirsten pitched really well after a tough first inning and that showed a lot of heart. In the second game I thought Sammy pitched very well against a good hitting team. I love the spot we are in right now, but we need to continue to improve if we are going to win the Big Sky conference.”
Game One: SUU 9, ISU 8
Game one got off to a rocky start as the Bengals put up six runs in the first inning to jump out to a 6-0 lead early. The Thunderbirds would answer in the bottom half of the inning with one run of their own on an RBI fielder’s choice from Megan Reed, but the Bengals would get it back in the following inning making it 7-1 ISU.
The score would stay that way until the home half of the third inning. Nicole Simonson got things started for the Thunderbirds with a one-out double and would come around to score on Kendall Kapitzke’s RBI single making it 7-2 Bengals. Karlee Manzione and Reed would draw walks, loading the bases for Javlyn Weaver. Weaver cranked a 2-2 pitch from Bengal pitcher Ashlyn Ames over the fence in left for her first career grand slam, cutting Idaho State’s lead to just one run.
Both teams would pick up runs in the fifth, SUU’s coming on a Morgan Leonard RBI double down the left field line. The Thunderbirds would get another one in the sixth as Manzione singled in Sarah Murphy, tying the game at 8-8. Down to their last two outs of regulation, Leonard would step to the plate to face Ames for the fourth time in the game. The senior quickly fell behind in the count 0-2, but drove the third pitch she saw down the line in left and over the fence for her fourth home run of the year and the 9-8 walk-off game one win.
Kirsten Hostetler started the game in the circle for the Thunderbirds. The senior picked up her sixth win and sixth complete game of the season, working seven innings and giving up nine hits, seven earned runs, and striking out three. Murphy, Manzione, and Leonard all had multi-hit games in game one.
Game Two: SUU 12, ISU 7
Game two had all of the makings of a pitcher’s duel through the first three innings. Starting pitcher Samantha Guile gave up just two hits through her first three innings of work holding the Bengals scoreless until the fourth when a two-run home run from Emma Bordenkecher gave the Bengals a 2-0 lead.
The lead wouldn’t last long though as the Thunderbirds would put up nine runs in the bottom of the inning, starting with a three-run home run from Reed to make it 3-2 Thunderbirds. After the Thunderbirds were able to load the bases, Murphy and Simonson followed with RBI’s of their own making it 5-2. A pitching change for the Bengals and a fly out from Kapitzke would bring Manzione to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. She launched the second grand slam of the day and her fourth home run of the season over the fence making it 9-2 Thunderbirds.
The Bengals picked up two more runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth, but the Thunderbirds had answer in both innings as they scored two in the fifth and one in the sixth to keep Idaho State at bay. Relief pitcher Cheyenne Cudahy would keep ISU quiet in the seventh and lock up the 12-7 win and the series win for Southern Utah.
Guile picked up her second win in a row working five innings and giving up nine hits and seven runs. After going hitless in game one, Reed was a perfect three for three in game two. Manzione and Leonard picked up their second multi-hit games of the day, finishing a combined eight for 14.
Coming Up Next
The Thunderbirds and the Bengals will wrap up the three-game series tomorrow at noon at Kathryn Berg Field. The Thunderbirds have a chance of getting their first series sweep this season.
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