WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A five-run third inning proved to be just enough for the University of Saint Joseph softball team as the Blue Jays downed the Suffolk University Rams, 5-4, in the first game of a GNAC doubleheader on the USJ Softball Field Wednesday afternoon. Game two was suspended after three innings of the play due to rain with the Rams leading 7-4. A makeup date to resume the game is yet to be determined.
USJ improves to 15-11 on the season and 8-3 in GNAC play with the game one victory, while Suffolk slips to 14-13 overall and 6-5 in the league with the setback.
Game 1 - USJ 5, Suffolk 4
The Rams struck first and jumped out to an early lead with a run in the top of the third inning off the bat of Jaclyn Flint (Midfield, Mass.). The sophomore belted a home run off the scoreboard in left field, her third of the season, to make it 1-0.
The Blue Jays answered right back though and in a big way with a huge rally in the bottom half of the frame. Sophomore Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) got things started and put USJ on the board with a one out, RBI single through the right side to drive in classmate Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) who singled to lead off the inning and knot the game, 1-1.
Following a strike out, the Blue Jays dug in and started a clutch two-out rally. A walk to junior Sarah Ercoli (East Granby, Conn.) loaded the bases to bring up USJ's hottest hitter, freshman Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.). Sharon delivered and ripped a two-RBI single up the middle to give St. Joseph the lead for good, 3-1.
Freshman and defending GNAC Rookie of the Week, McKenna Driscoll (Bristol, Conn.), stepped in next and followed with another clutch two-out hit, a two-RBI single to shallow center to bring in Ercoli and Sharon to cap the scoring and make it 5-1.
Suffolk would not go down quietly however. In the top of the sixth, sophomore Jill Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) got the Rams one run closer when she launched a solo home run deep over the right field fence to make it 5-2. Suffolk would keep things going in the sixth and brought the tying run to the plate, but Sharon worked out of the jam and got Evelyn Marquis (Oxford, Mass.) to foul out to end the inning and limit the damage.
Down to their final three outs, the Rams kept up the momentum and made things very interesting. Freshman Ashley Zulla laced a RBI double that one hopped the center field fence to score Dylan Parsons (Methuen, Mass.) who reached on error to start the inning and trim the deficit to 5-3.
Following a ground out to put two outs on the board for USJ, Pulek sent a RBI double to left center to make it a one run game, 5-4, and put the tying run in scoring position. Sharon dug deep though and induced a game-ending ground out the following batter to secure the victory for USJ.
Sharon picked up her 13th win of the season in the circle for USJ and now improves to 13-6 on the season. She allowed four runs (two earned), while scattering seven hits and a walk. She struck out a pair.
Ali Yamakaitis (Avenel, N.J.) was dealt the loss for the Rams. She fired a complete game, surrendering five runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out four Blue Jays. She falls to 7-7 on the season in the circle.
Skoly picked up the only multi-hit game for the hosts, finishing 2-for-3 at the plate with a RBI and a run scored. Sharon and Driscoll each drove in a pair.
Game 2 - USJ 4, Suffolk 7 (Suspended - End 3)
The Rams raced out to a 7-0 lead in the second game, but the Blue Jays rallied for four runs in the bottom of the third to pull within 7-4 before rain forced play to be suspended to a later date after three complete innings.
The USJ softball team will be back in action next on Saturday when they host Rivier in another key GNAC doubleheader. First pitch of game one is slated for 12 noon.