LAKELAND, FL – Behind the late-inning heroics by Shannon Bell and Zierra Flodman, and absolutely sterling relief pitching by junior college transfer Aubrey Ehlers, Florida Southern was poised for a pair of extra-inning wins over Tampa in their Sunshine State Conference doubleheader Saturday afternoon. Bell's RBI single and 5.2 scoreless innings from Ehlers did give the Moccasins a 1-0, 11-inning win over the Spartans in game one. Then it was Flodman's 3-run double in the bottom of the sixth that brought the Mocs back from a 5-run deficit in game two, with Ehlers again starring in a relief role, but this time the Spartans got two runs in the top of ninth for their own extra-inning win by the score of 7-5.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME ONE:
- Despite the 1-0 score in the opener, there were enough hits and base runners for both teams to score many times before anyone actually did in the bottom of the 11th. Through the first 10 innings, Florida Southern (4-3, 1-2 SSC) left 12 runners on base, had two thrown out stealing, one erased on a double play and another thrown out trying to advance an extra base on a hit. They left the bases loaded in the second and eighth innings. Tampa (5-6, 2-1) also left 12 on through the first 10 innings and hit into two double plays. On several occasions, it was spectacular defense that kept the teams from scoring.
- In the bottom of the 11th, the Moccasins finally broke the deadlock when Makayla Deuberry singled into left field with one out, and Desirae Klumpp followed with a bunt single that put runners at first and second. Two batters later, Bell drilled a pitch into left-center for the game-winning single that brought in Deuberry for the 1-0 win. Ironically, Klumpp and Bell were the only Moccasins without a hit going into the 11th inning, though each player reached base earlier on walks.
- In terms of the pitching, the Moccasins got 5.1 scoreless innings from starter Kelli Gault and another 5.2 scoreless innings from Ehlers. Gault worked around six hits (all of them singles), one walk and two hit batters, twice with the help of double plays. One of them was unassisted by second baseman Alex Mace, who caught a line drive by Sahrina Cortes with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the second. With the ball hit toward the middle, Mace caught it on the run with her momentum carrying her right to second base where she easily doubled off Emalee Jansen to end the inning. In the top of the third, after an error put the leadoff hitter on base, the Mocs got a 6-4-3 double play turned by Deuberry.
- After Gault gave up a single and a walk with one out in the sixth, head coach Chris Bellotto went to the bullpen for Ehlers, who was almost unhittable the rest of the game. The junior from Dunedin got two ground balls to first to leave both runners in scoring position and ended up allowing just one hit with no walks in her 5.2 innings of work. That lone hit was an infield flare by Cortes in the seventh. The Mocs also committed three errors in extra innings, but each time, Ehlers shrugged them off and got Florida Southern through for another inning. She finished with two strikeouts and improved to 1-2 with the win.
- The Spartans got 7.0 scoreless innings from sophomore Sam Kaye, who was making only the fourth appearance and second start of her career. She pitched into the eighth inning without allowing a run, and much like Gault did for Florida Southern, managed to work her way out of trouble every time it found her. The Moccasins had eight hits and five walks against Kaye, including three hits and one walk by Jessica Trana, but never found a way to score against her. Eventually, in the bottom of the eighth, it was a single by Trana and hitting Mace in the top of the helmet that forced a pitching change and brought Makaleigh Dooley into the game. Dooley gave up an infield hit to Kensie Green that loaded the bases with none out, but even then Florida Southern was unable to score after a strikeout and two foul popups ended the inning. They also left Lindsey Wilson at second after a one-out double in the ninth.
HOW IT HAPPENED IN GAME TWO:
- In game two, the Spartans scored the first run in the top of the second inning with the aid of an error and a wild pitch that set up an RBI single by Maddie Farrell. They went on to score four runs in the fifth when they sent 10 batters to the plate against three Florida Southern pitchers. At one point the Spartans had four consecutive 2-out singles, with the final three by Lauren Pascoe, Sahrina Cortes and Cristina Clauberg driving in runs. A bases-loaded walk by Farrell made it 5-0 and prompted Bellotto to again call on Ehlers.
- Ehlers prevented further damage by inducing a fly ball to end the top of the fifth and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning to keep the score at 5-0. That allowed the Moccasins to stage their rally in the bottom of the sixth when they erupted for five runs on five hits. They started that frame with three consecutive singles by Klumpp, Wilson, and Bell, with Klumpp scoring on an error after Wilson's hit. A sacrifice fly by Trana made it 5-2, and a defensive mistake by the Spartans allowed Mace to reach on a fielder's choice without an out being recorded. Weldon then hit one sharply to third that was knocked down by Bailey Phillips, but the Tampa third baseman was unable to recover in time to tag Bell, who was sliding into the bag behind her. That loaded the bases for Florida Southern, and two batters later, Flodman doubled into the gap in left-center, clearing them with her game-tying double. The Mocs then had a chance to take the lead when Deuberry lined a pitch up the middle, but UT second baseman Erica Matich made a diving catch behind the bag for the final out.
- Both teams went down in order in the seventh inning, and Tampa wasted a leadoff single by Phillips in the top of the eighth. The Mocs got a base runner in the bottom of the eighth when Weldon was hit by Dooley with two out. Once again the Moccasins thought they had a game-winning hit on a ball driven into the left-centerfield gap by Green, only to see Cortes come streaking across from center to make a spectacular diving catch for the final out of the inning.
- The Spartans finally got to Ehlers in the top of the ninth after she had shut them out for nine innings over two games. Singles by Pascoe and Clauberg put two on with two out, and it was Dooley herself who delivered the go-ahead RBI single. Another run scored on an error to put Tampa ahead 7-5.
- The Mocs were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth after a two-out single by Klumpp, giving the two teams a split in their doubleheader, and Tampa a 2-to-1 series win.
- Dooley went the distance in game two and moved to 5-5 on the season, giving up five runs on seven hits, striking out two and walking one. Ehlers fell to 1-3 with the loss, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits with no strikeouts and no walks in 4.1 innings.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Trana matched her career-high with three hits in the opener, while Wilson, Green and Klumpp all had three hits in the doubleheader. Wilson has reached base in every game this year with either a hit or a walk.
- All three of Klumpp's hits came in critical late-inning situations. The first of those was a single in the bottom of the 11th in game one that moved Deuberry into scoring position for the game-winning hit. She then led off the 5-run sixth inning in game two with a single and added another single in the bottom of the ninth.
- Florida Southern out-hit Tampa 20-17 in the doubleheader and had six walks to the Spartans' three. The two teams also combined for 16 bases-loaded at-bats in the series but got just three hits out of them.
- Bell was the defensive star Saturday and denied Tampa two hits in the nightcap with nearly identical diving catches in short right-center. One of those took a hit away from Press in the sixth inning, and the other took one away from Cortes in the ninth. Mace was another of the standouts on defense with her unassisted double play in game one and a nice play that took a hit away later from Taylor Farrell.
- Saturday marked the second time Florida Southern and Tampa have played two extra-inning games in a doubleheader. The first was in April of 2000 when they split two 8-inning games at Barnett Field. Saturday's first game also marked the eighth time Florida Southern and Tampa have gone to extra innings scoreless and each team has won four of them.
UP NEXT: Florida Southern will be home again on Tuesday night to host Canadian national champion Western Ontario in a doubleheader that begins at 5 p.m.