May 8, 2014
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Freshman Marah House doubled in the tie-breaking run and scored on an error as Army exploded for four runs in the top of the ninth to snap a 1-1 tie as fourth-seeded Black Knights (23-26) defeated top-seeded Lehigh, 5-1, in the opening round of the Patriot League Tournament Thursday.
Freshman right-hander Caroline Smith, a second-team all-league selection , retired the side in the bottom of the ninth in going the distance on a six hitter. She walked three and struck out four to improve to 13-11.
Smith helped her own cause driving in the first run of the game on an RBI groundout in the top of the second.
She held Lehigh (30-19) off the scoreboard until the bottom of the sixth when Vicky Lattanzio's RBI single with one out tied the game 1-1. Smith then denied the Mountain Hawks, who had two hits in that inning, the tie-breaking run as Army turned a double play.
Army left a pair of runners on, with the tie-breaker at third base, in the top of the sixth after leading off that inning on back-to-back infield hits by Savanna Aversa and Amanda Nguyen.
The Black Knights also left two runners on in the eighth. With one out, Aversa ripped her second hit of the game up the middle and Nguyen reached on an error by the third basemanh. A strikeout and infield popup ended that rally.
Lehigh also had two runners stranded in the bottom half of the the eighth. MacKenzie Velasque led off with a single, but was called for interference heading to second for the first out. Alexis Watanawabe reached on a fielder's choice followed by a walk, but Smith got out of that jam on a fielder's choice and groundout.
Heading into the top of the ninth inning with the score tied 1-1, Army left five runners on base and Lehigh had six stranded. The Mountain Hawks had six hits and the Black Knights five.
Army snapped the tie pounding out six hits for four runs off Patriot League Pitcher of the Year Emily Bausher (13-7) in the tie-breaking ninth.
Kasey McCravey (2-for-4 and scoring twice) started the uprising with an infield hit and crossed on House's double to left field. Back-to-back errors on that play allowed House to score as Army pulled out to a 3-1 lead. Smith followed with a sinlge up the middle and gave way to pinch runner Karena Gonzalez.
Followiing an out, Alex Gaff ripped a single up the middle and Gonzalez moved to third. Michaela Hoover pinch ran for Gaff and Bernadette Cardon came on as a pinch-hitter. Gonzalez was thrown out trying to steal home and Hoover moved to second.
Cardon drew a walk, just the second off Bausher, then gave way to Aversa. Nguyen (2-for-5) and Alee Rashenskas (2-for-5) ripped back-to-back run-scoring singles up the middle to close out the scoring as Army pulled out to a 5-1 lead.
"I went to the plate with the attitude I was going to hit the ball," said House, who slammed the double off the first pitch offered. "I was told by my coach that once you get a runner on, look for the outside pitch because they are looking to get the runner out.
"I took the first pitch and connected and I just starting running and I was slowing up at third and coach was screaming at me to go home. After I crossed, all the girls came running out and were hugging me."
It is the third straight year that Army won its Patriot League opener. It is just the second time that the Black Knights defeated the Mountain Hawks in the opening round in six tries, the last a 7-4 decision in 2001.
The win snapped a four-game losing streak, including a three-game loss to the Mountain Hawks in last weekend's three-game league series. It is also the third straight win over Lehigh at Kaufman Field. Army defeated Lehigh twice last year in the championship game to win the title and automatic NCAA bid.
Army takes on second-seeded Boston University in a winners' bracket game Friday morning, 10:35 a.m., at Kaufman Field. The Terreries edged No. 3 Bucknell 4-3 in the second game.