Home run in 11th gives Catawba 3-2 win over Tusculum

Home run in 11th gives Catawba 3-2 win over Tusculum
Box score SALISBURY, N.C. ---

Winning pitcher Carley Tysinger hit the go-ahead home run in the top of the 11th inning as fifth-seeded Catawba College defeated top-seeded Tusculum College 3-2 in a Food Lion South Atlantic Conference Softball Tournament winners bracket game Friday afternoon at Whitley Field.

Tysinger (24-8) struck out 14 in a complete-game performance for the Indians (31-17), including the final two batters of the game with the potential tying run on second base.

Her home run came with one out in the top of the 11th off Tusculum reliever Elizabeth Johnson (14-11) and sent the Indians into the winners bracket final against Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday at 9 a.m. The Pioneers (31-18) will play Mars Hill in an elimination game on Saturday at 11 a.m., after conclusion of a game between Lincoln Memorial and Wingate that was stopped by rain in the second inning on Friday.

Tusculum trailed 1-0 and 2-1, but twice rallied to tie the score and extend the game. An RBI groundout by Kaytlin Stroinski in the sixth tied the game at 1-1, while a steal of home by Nicole Ball in the 10th deadlocked the game at 2-2 after Catawba had taken a 2-1 lead in the top of the frame.

While Tysinger was retiring the first 12 Pioneers she faced over the first four innings, the Indians threatened against Tusculum starter Kelly King in the first. Amanda Terry led off the game with a triple, but was stranded at third on a strikeout and two groundouts.

In the third, Catawba took a 1-0 lead as Gina Gerone led off with a single and scored on a single to center field by Tara Gibbs. Tysinger protected the lead through five innings, striking out the side in the fifth after leadoff hits by Lindsey Umberger and Katie Brennan left runners at second and third with no outs for the Pioneers.

Tusculum finally tied the game in the sixth as Alix Kruel walked, took second on a sacrifice, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a groundout by Stroinski. Both teams had runners in scoring position with less than two outs in the ninth, but could not push across the go-ahead run.

Catawba took the lead at 2-1 in in the top of the tenth as Terry walked against King with one out, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored on the second RBI single of the game by Gibbs.

The Pioneers came right back in the bottom of the tenth as Ball led off with a double and moved to third when Samantha Silver reached on an error by Tysinger. Silver then allowed herself to be trapped between first and second, while Ball raced home with the tying run. After a sacrifice, Carolyn Williamson singled to left to put runners at second and third with one out, but a popup and strikeout ended the frame.

Johnson relieved King to start the 11th and retired Sydney Hyder on a fly ball before Tysinger drove a 1-1 pitch over the fence for her third home run of the season and a 3-2 Indians lead. Tusculum attempted yet another rally in the bottom of the 11th when Umberger was hit by a pitch and took second on a bunt, but Tysinger struck out the next two batters to end the game.

King worked a season-high 10 2/3 innings for the Pioneers, allowing 10 hits and two earned runs while striking out three and walking two. Williamson led the Pioneers at the plate by going 2-for-4 in the game, and Terry and Gibbs each led the Indians with 2-for-5 performances.

Tusculum will face Mars Hill in an elimination game after the Lions scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Anderson 4-3.

- SAC -