UNION, N.J. — Top-seeded Montclair State plated the game’s only run in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Rowan 1-0 and capture the Union regional and advance to the NCAA tournament in Salem, Va.
The top-seeded Red Hawks (42-7) advance to the NCAA championships for the sixth time in program history and are making the team’s third trip to the championships under head coach Anita Kubicka, who previously took her team in 1992 and 1997 finishing third and runner-up, respectively.
Montclair State will face Amherst Regional winner Plattsburgh State (35-9) on Friday, May 18 at the Moyer Complex in Salem at 4:00 pm.
Rowan, who was making its 20th appearance in the NCAA tournament, closed out the season with a 39-9 record.
For the second consecutive day, Rowan junior Leanne Miller and Montclair State sophomore Alex Hill were locked in a pitcher’s duel, as the two teams combined for just four hits through the first six innings of the game.
Hill, who had the only Montclair State hit through the first six innings, led off the seventh inning with a single through the left side. Flex runner Priscilla Camachoreplaced Hill at first and advanced to second on the sacrifice by first baseman Alisha Cumberton. Two batters later, pinch hitter Melany Zeller singled through the right side with two outs to score Camacho from second base with the game-winning run. It was Zeller’s sixth hit in 12 pinch-hit appearances this season.
In the bottom of the seventh, second baseman Nicole Escudero had a one-out walk and stole second to move into scoring position, however Hill retired the final two batters with a fly-out and groundout to Camacho to punch the Red Hawks’ ticket to Salem.
Both teams had one hit apiece through the first four innings, before Rowan threatened in the bottom of the fifth inning and had the bases loaded with two outs before Hill was able to get out of the inning to keep the game scoreless. Escudero and right fielder Lauren Davis each recorded one-out, infield singles and left fielder Jennifer Arcella was hit by a pitch, however Hill recorded the inning-ending strikeout to preserve the shutout.
Hill, who was named Union Region Tournament Most Outstanding Player, allowed just three hits and two walks, while recording 10 strikeouts and tied the Montclair State single season record with her 30th win of the season tying the mark set by Dina DeAquino in 1988 and duplicated by Carolyn McCrea in 2008. At the plate, Hill recorded two of Montclair’s three hits.
Miller (21-3) also only allowed three hits and two walks and struck out two. Escudero finished 1-of-2 with a walk, while designated player Katie Trotter and Davis were each 1-of-3.