LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An error-filled game went Central Oklahoma’s way in the end, with the Bronchos pulling out yet another late-inning win here Thursday night in the second round of the NCAA Division II World Series.
UCO used two infield hits, a key error and a sacrifice fly to score two runs in the top of the seventh inning to get past Southern Connecticut 6-4 and advance to the winner’s bracket finals in the double elimination tournament.
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It was the seventh win in the seventh inning or later for the Bronchos this season, who improved to 46-7.
The Bronchos and SCSU committed three errors apiece in the contest, with all three of UCO’s coming in the sixth when the Owls scored four unearned runs to tie the game.
But, as has become their custom, the Bronchos responded in the seventh.
Kayce Raines and Nathalie Timmermans led off with back-to-back infield singles before an error on a potential double play ball allowed Raines to score the go-ahead run and put Timmermans on third. Megan Whitmore followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4 and Rachael Steverson gave up a one-out walk in the bottom of the seventh before closing out the complete game pitching victory.
“It was definitely an ugly win, but we’ll take it and move on,” UCO coach Genny Stidham said. “We really looked in control of the game and then made some big mistakes to let them back in it. Fortunately it didn’t cost us the ball game and we’re excited to be in the position we are.”
The Bronchos snapped a scoreless deadlock with a three-run outburst in the top of the fifth, getting three hits and taking advantage of two errors.
Whitmire started things with a lead-off single through the left side and pinch-runner Kailee Roe moved to second on Brittany Weaver’s sacrifice bunt before the switch-hitting Justus drilled a double down the left field line while batting from the right side to plate the game’s first run.
Devyn Frazier – also a switch-hitter batting right-handed – followed suit with another double down the line to score Justus and consecutive errors on UCO’s next two batters allowed Frazier to come home and make it 3-0.
The Bronchos upped the advantage to 4-0 in the sixth when Frazier drew a bases-loaded walk. Kacie Edwards walked to lead off the inning, Whitmire followed with a double to left-center field and Weaver was hit by pitch for a Division II career record 63rd time before Frazier drew a four-pitch free pass.
That lead appeared safe before three fielding miscues led to all four SCSU runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the Bronchos prevailed in the end.
Steverson scattered nine hits in picking up the win, her seventh in UCO’s post-season push. She walked one and struck out three in improving to 28-5.