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God answers Casella’s prayer in 7th
After battling for six innings, the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday came down to a couple of pivotal plays and the Bobcats found a way to come out with a 4-3 victory.
Through five innings of play on Saturday, Quinnipiac mustered only one hit and faced a 3-0 deficit against Wagner. After Bobcat pitcher Heather Schwartzburg struck out the side in the top half of the sixth, Quinnipiac peeled off four hits and knotted the game at 3 going into the seventh. Schwartzburg again limited the Wagner offense in the top half, setting the stage for Angela Casella in bottom of the inning.
After two straight outs at the start the inning, Lauren Salgado swung at the 1-2 offering and nudged a weak grounder up the third base line. The Bobcat left fielder’s dashing speed induced a wide throw to first base from the third baseman. Advancing to third on the play, Salgado gave Casella a chance to win.
On the first pitch of her at-bat, she lifted a single behind second base that fell just short of the center fielder’s diving attempt, sending the Quinnipiac bench into pandemonium.
“I was in a lot of prayer, just asking God for a blessing,” Casella said of her last at-bat. “And I was saying, ‘God just please let this ball drop in, I don’t care just let it come off that bat, let’s get this run in.’”
It was the second hit of the day for the center fielder as her team took the first game of the doubleheader, 4-3. The Bobcats started slow as the team didn’t record a hit until the fifth inning and gave up a two-run home run in the second to give Wagner an early 3-0 lead.
But the combination of Emily Bellush and Schwartzburg shut down the Seahawk offense for the remainder of the game and the Bobcats bats finally broke through in the sixth.
The rally started with back-to-back bunt singles from Salgado and Casella, who advanced to third and second as the throw to first after Casella’s bunt went wide right. Senior Katie Allendorfer capitalized with a sacrifice fly to center that brought home Salgado. Alex Alba took the first pitch of her at-bat and laced a single up the middle scoring Casella. After Alba advanced to second on the throw home, Kim Brzezinski made it three straight runs batted in with another single back up the middle.
“The top of the order did their job,” Quinnipiac head coach Germaine Fairchild said. “We were able to get a slap-and-run going there to get the runners in motion and cause the defense to rush a little bit and make a mistake, which put our three-four-five in a great position to make it happen.”
The three-run sixth set the stage for the walk off in the seventh as Schwartzburg took the victory, throwing three innings of one-hit ball in relief of Bellush who went four innings while allowing four hits and three runs.
In the second game of the doubleheader, Schwartzburg took the ball to start the game and capped a 7-1 victory with a complete game and six strikeouts.
Much like the first game, the Bobcats started slow as Wagner banged out three singles in the first but Schwartzburg limited the Seahawks to just one run in the inning. Schwartzburg limited the Seahawks throughout both games as she gave up one run in 10 innings pitched on the afternoon.
The offense jump-started in the second with a leadoff walk from Brzezinski. With one out and runners on first and second, Heather Maffeo lifted a single over the second baseman’s glove that loaded the bases. Alex Murray stepped into the box with one out and popped a single in front of the center fielder to score Brzezinski. Salgado followed with an RBI groundout to the shortstop.
Quinnipiac broke out in the bottom of the fifth with a four-run inning that gave the Bobcats a 7-1 lead. After a lineout and flyout to start the inning, Brzezinski started the two out rally with a double to the left center field fence. Bellush followed with a line drive single to right that scored the first run of the inning. After Kelly Wall singled, Maffeo ripped a double to the right center field gap that scored two and Murray finished the scoring with an RBI single to right.
Wagner threatened in the seventh with two outs and the bases loaded, but Schwartzburg closed the door with a strikeout to end the game and complete the sweep.
“It was very important to sweep,” said Casella. “We have been on a winning streak so we need to keep it up, keep that intensity and send a message to other teams that we are threatening to sweep you.”