LAKELAND, FL – Down by four runs in the third inning after a big hit by Embry-Riddle right fielder Lisa Hop, Florida Southern fought back and put the Eagles in a couple of tough spots in the latter innings, only to have Hop push the door closed as a relief pitcher with the game on the line. The Moccasins (12-16, 4-12 Sunshine State Conference) got two extra-base hits apiece from Makayla Deuberry and Celia Higgins, and two key contributions from Jessica Trana, but it was not enough to prevent Embry-Riddle (15-12, 7-6) from pulling out a 5-3 win.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Both teams had doubles in the first inning, and both teams had an additional runner on base in the second, but it took until the top of the third for anyone to score, and when they did, the Eagles put up four. A leadoff walk by number nine hitter Callie Rodriguez started the big inning, Maggie Scott followed with a double, and Hop's base hit drove in both of them for a 2-0 lead. Mariana Pereira then tripled to left for another run and scored herself when Katy Thompson reached on an error. Michy Ramos gave Embry-Riddle another hit in the inning before the Mocs got the final two outs.
- Florida Southern responded with two runs in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit in half. That too started with a leadoff walk from the Mocs' number nine hitter, Meghan Sexton. Two batters later, Deuberry doubled in Sexton, and two batters after that, Trana delivered another RBI double to make the score 4-2.
- The fourth inning saw both teams get runners thrown out on the bases. Zierra Flodman threw out Scott attempting to steal second for the final out in the top half of the inning, and the bottom half ended when the Mocs bunted into a double play.
- Embry-Riddle tacked on its final run of the night in the top of the fifth when Hop reached on a leadoff infield single and came home on a two-out double by Ramos. Centerfielder Jadin Dewith kept it 5-2 with a spectacular running catch on the warning track in straightaway center, taking what could have been another double away from Savannah Brockenbrough.
- Over their last three innings, the Moccasins had six hits, one walk and another runner reach base on an error, but could get only one of them in for a run. They started the bottom of the fifth with singles from Sexton and Dewith, but left them at first and second. In the bottom of the sixth, hits by Samantha Prosser and Alex Mace combined with an error that put Flodman on had the bases loaded with none out, but Embry-Riddle pitcher Jayla Jackson escaped with two pop-ups and a strikeout.
- The Moccasins again got to Jackson in the bottom of the seventh, which started with a bloop double by Deuberry into short right, and a triple to the fence in right center by Higgins. That got the Mocs within 5-3, still with none out, but it prompted a pitching change for the Eagles, with Hop coming in from right field. She walked Trana to put runners at the corners, but a busted squeeze play left Higgins trapped between third and home for the first out, and Hop ended the game by getting Prosser and Mace each to fly out to center.
- Jackson got the win, improving to 8-5, by pitching 6.0 innings plus two batters into the seventh. She gave up three runs on nine hits with two strikeouts and three walks. Hop earned her third save of the season. Aubrey Ehlers fell to 11-8 with the loss, allowing five runs on eight hits with two strikeouts and one walk. Kristen Beacham pitched two scoreless innings for the Mocs in relief.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Higgins had missed the last seven games but went 2-for-4 with a double and a triple in her return. It was her second game this season with multiple extra-base hits following a triple and home run against Nova Southeastern on February 16.
- Deuberry has hit safely in six straight games and gone 9-for-20 (.450) with a .522 on-base percentage, three doubles, one home run, and five RBI.
- Florida Southern's five extra-base hits (two doubles by Deuberry, a double and triple by Higgins, and a double by Trana) were a season-high. The teams combined for nine in the game.
- Mace picked two outfield assists, one on a play in which Dewith made the out at second base. Mace picked up a ball that was thrown into right field, and fired it to Dewith covering the bag to catch Katy Thompson who was trying to advance an extra base on the error. Mace later threw out Pereira trying to go first-to-third on a base hit by Thompson in the seventh. She's the first Moccasin outfielder with two assists in one game since Allasyn Lieneck on February 8, 2013 against West Florida. The last to do that from right field was Katie Brandon in 2004 at Saint Leo. Mace is the 12th Florida Southern outfielder with two outfield assists in a single game and leads the team with four this season.
Florida Southern and Embry-Riddle play again Saturday afternoon in a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. at Chris Bellotto Field.