BETHLEHEM, Pa. --- Moravian College continues its look back at its 2013-14 athletic campaign with the No. 9 highlight in the Top 10 Exciting Games & Fantastic Finishes – the softball team earning a 4-3, 10-inning walk off victory over The Catholic University of America to earn a split of the Landmark Conference doubleheader.
The Greyhounds, who were 29-8 overall this past spring, and the Cardinals met on a sunny but cool afternoon at Blue & Grey Field on Thursday, April 17. The extra inning affair in the nightcap was the third of the year for Moravian with the Hounds winning all three extra inning games, and it was also the third of the Greyhounds three walk off victories during the season.
Catholic took the opening game of the twin bill, 9-0, to give both squads three losses in conference action.
In the second contest, the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning before the Hounds finally got on the scoreboard when senior right fielder Miranda Sergas connected on an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning scoring junior center fielder Dior George.
Sergas would give the Hounds their first lead of the day in her next at-bat with an RBI single in the bottom of the third that sent George across the plate again. However, Catholic tied the game at 2-2 with a run in the fifth inning.
The game remained at 2-2 at the end of the seven regulation innings. The Cardinals plated a run in the top of the eighth to move in front, 3-2, but a double play by the Greyhounds kept Moravian down by just a tally.
In the bottom half of the eight, Greyhound senior designated player Cassie Ernst connected on a one-out, solo home run down the left field line to tie the game again and keep the chances of a split in the doubleheader alive. The homer was Ernst's first of the season and her 12th in a Moravian uniform.
Neither team scored in the ninth inning. By Landmark rules, the teams began using the international tiebreaker in the top of the 10th inning. The international tiebreaker puts the player that made the final out of the previous inning on second base to start the next inning as a way to induce scoring.
"I'd say 9 out of a 10 times, a team is going to bunt to start the inning in the international tiebreaker because then you get the runner to third base where anything in the outfield will score the run most of the time," explained Head Coach John Byrne. "When we're on defense in that situation, we'll always set the field to be prepared for the bunt. We'll usually bunt as well on offense but on occasion, depending who is on second base or at the plate; we might swing away and see what happens."
Senior pitcher Elizabeth Tillou headed out to the circle in the top of the 10th for the Greyhounds in her longest career outing. The Cardinals put runners on the corner right away on an error by the Hounds but Tillou was able to get a line out and a pair of ground outs to keep the Cardinals from moving ahead. Tillou ended up facing 45 batters in the contest and tossed 122 pitches including 83 strikes for her eighth win of the season.
"Ten innings is the longest outing that I had thrown for a single game in college," Tillou said. "I have, however; thrown more innings over the span of our doubleheaders in a day. But 10 innings is the longest one game outing that I've had. All of my pitches were working rather well that day but we used a lot of curve balls and inside curves in particular. My change-up was also used rather often to keep them off balance. Catholic is a good hitting team."
When Moravian came to bat in the bottom of the 10th, Sergas headed to second to give the Hounds speed on the bases. The Cardinals walked junior first baseman and All-American Jenn Dalickas on four straight pitches rather than face a player that ended up breaking the school record for home runs in a season this spring. Senior catcher Taylor Mihalik would put down the bunt Coach Byrne needed on the second pitch of her at-bat, bunting down the first base line to move Dalickas and Sergas to second and third.
Senior third baseman Rachel DeLucia came to the plate needing just to put the ball in the outfield to win the game. DeLucia, who was hitting nearly .370 before the at-bat, was ready for the situation.
"Game winning situations such as that get me in the zone," stated DeLucia. "I want to be the one to step up and help my team. I knew that I needed to at least hit the ball out of the infield if not hit a ball deep enough for the runner on third to tag up and score. I would've been happy with either because it would have been a productive out."
After a strike on the first pitch, DeLucia ripped the next pitch right back up the middle for an RBI single that scored Sergas with the winning run. It was DeLucia's third hit of the game.
"When I saw the ball get out of the infield I was overjoyed," exclaimed DeLucia. "I did my job and I was so happy that we were able to pullout the win. I've never seen us play Catholic harder in my four year career."
DeLucia's joy was felt all over Blue & Grey Field.
"When Rachel hit that final hit, I felt both relieved and excited," Tillou said. "We had just come off of a tough loss to Catholic the game right before, and as a team, we worked so hard to redeem ourselves in the second game. With every inning, the tension grew stronger and it seemed as if we were at a standstill and the game was going to go on forever. This game is a prime example of team effort, everyone left everything they had out on the field, and Rachel's hit was just the final piece of the puzzle to give us our victory."
The victory would help the Greyhounds earn the second seed in the Landmark Conference Tournament in early May at Susquehanna University.
You can check out the original game day story at http://moraviansports.com/sports/sball/2013-14/releases/2014041754iqtq.
Top 10 Exciting Games & Fantastic Finishes of 2013-14
#9 – Softball Walks Off in 10th to Earn Split with Catholic
#8 – TBA
#7 – TBA
#6 – TBA
#5 – TBA
#4 – TBA
#3 – TBA
#2 – TBA
#1 – TBA