KISSIMMEE, FLA, - The contest came down to the final pitch, but after scoring two runs in the tenth inning, Lake Erie College (2-4) allowed three in a 6-5 loss to Slippery Rock University (4-2) in extra frames at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla.
(watch video highlights from the contest below.)
Freshman Sara Shields (Randolph, Ohio/Waterloo) went the entire way for the Storm, working nine and two-thirds innings and allowing just six hits, while striking out six. Only three of the six runs allowed were earned, as Shields retired the side in order in five innings and kept Lake Erie in the ball game to the tenth.
After a first inning where both teams went down in order, Lake Erie struck in the second for three runs. After loading the bases with no outs, junior outfielder Haley Rathge (Edon, Ohio/Napoleon) doubled home senior third baseman Brittany Sostre (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) and junior catcher Megan Foley (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick). Freshman first baseman Juliana Brotzman (Madison, Ohio/Madison)was brought home on a Shields groundout and the Storm nearly struck for more before stranding three on the bases.
In the bottom of the third, Slippery Rock plated one run and still had the bases loaded with the heart of the order to the plate. Shields remained composed and worked out of the jam with a fielder's choice at the plate, a pop out and a ground out to short.
Lake Erie got base hits in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but each was left stranded. Slippery Rock meanwhile was retired in order in the fourth and fifth frames as part of 10 straight retired by Shields.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Rock put together back-to-back two out singles to tie the score at 3-3. Both teams went down in order in the seventh, with Shields striking out a pair to send the game to extra innings.
With tie breaker rules in effect, both teams started with runners on second base in the extra frames. In the Lake Erie eighth, Brotzman hit a one-out double but freshman pinch runner Faith Atkins (Holland, Ohio/Springfield) was forced to wait on the play and moved just to third. Lake Erie was unable to convert as back-to-back pop ups to the catcher, one on a squeeze attempt, ended the rally. In bottom of the eighth, Slippery Rock sacrificed their runner to third, but a failed squeeze attempt and a pop up to shortstop sent the game to the ninth.
In the ninth, Lake Erie senior outfielder Danielle Finkler (Chardon, Ohio/Berkshire) successfully moved pinch runner Paige Seech (Hubbard, Ohio/Hubbard) to third, but a pair of pop outs got the Rock out of the jam. In the Slippery Rock half, Shields worked magic again as retired the side in order to leave the runner at second base.
In the 10th, Lake Erie finally broke through. Freshman second baseman Krista Haley (Holland, Ohio/Springfield Holland) laid down a successful sacrifice bunt to move junior shortstop Lindsey Pennell (Columbus, Ohio/Westland) to third. The move paid off, when following a Sostre walk, a wild pitch scored Pennell. The Storm secured an insurance run as Foley doubled home Sostre for a 5-3 advantage.
The lead did not hold however, as after a leadoff walk, a sacrifice bunt attempt led to a Lake Erie error, scoring a pair of Rock runners. Shields looked like she could hold out once more to send the game to the 11th, retiring back-to-back batters, but with two outs and a runner on third, a Jenna Geibel base hit to right gave Slippery Rock the 6-5 win.
The Storm had 10 hits in the contest, with Sostre, Foley and Brotzman each with a pair as the Green and White's 4-5-6 batters.
Lake Erie is off on Wednesday but returns to action Thursday with a pair of games on its Spring Break trip.