LOUISVILLE, KY - Sophomore Alexis Curtiss broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning on Friday afternoon, leading the Bulls to a 3-2 walk off victory over MAC foe Kent State in the opening round of the Cardinal Classic. This was a non-conference game for both teams. The win improves UB's record to 2-4 on the season.
The Golden Flashes broke through first, scoring a run in the top of the first inning off UB starter Dani Cowan, who allowed just one earned run on the day. The Bulls trailed into the bottom of the fifth before striking for two runs.
Sophomore Nora McGuire opened the inning with a walk before being subbed on the bases by Tori Pettine, who immediately stole second. Freshman Ryleigh Fitzgerald then singled to the shortstop, putting runners on the corners. A Kent State wild pitch scored the first UB run and aggressive base running by Fitzgerald moved her to third. Another infield single, this time off the bat of Karly Nevez drove in the second run of the game.
Kent State tied the game back up in the top of the sixth inning on a bases loaded walk, but junior college transfer Heather Ryder came in and recorded a strike out to retire the side.
Both teams were retired in the seventh inning, sending the game to extra innings. Using the international tiebreaker rule, Kent State started with a runner on second and then drew a leadoff walk, prompting a pitching change for the Bulls. Junior Tori Speckman came into the game and following a sacrifice bunt got a lineout and a strike out to end the inning.
Junior Holly Luciano began the bottom half of the inning on second base and just as quickly as it took her to get on the base, a leadoff single into right field had her crossing home for the winning run.
Nevez and Curtis each finished with two-hit days, combining for four of UB's six hits. The others came from a pair of freshmen in Fitzgerald and Anissa Pinedo.
Cowan went 5.2 innings and picked up a no decision, allowing five hits and striking out four. Ryder saw her first action in the circle this season and pitched 1.1 innings before handing it to Speckman, who pitched the final 1.0 inning, striking out one and picking up the win.
"Today we took a step forward as a team," said head coach Jen Teague. "Our hitting is starting to come around and we had effective pitching. I was pleased with their energy. We know that there is a lot of season ahead and we are reminding them to trust the process and to find a way to get their job done. Today was a total team effort."
The Bulls will play twice tomorrow in the Cardinal Classic, first at 10:00 am against Eastern Illinois. UB will follow that up with the tournament host, Louisville, at 12:30 pm.