Western Connecticut State comes from behind to beat St. John Fisher
ITHACA, N.Y. -- A wild finish to the opening game of the Ithaca Regional at Doris Kostrinsky Field benefitted Western Connecticut State as it came from behind to defeat the top seed St. John Fisher 5-3.
The Colonials scored three runs in their final at bat and freshman pitcher Alle Sabith got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the seventh in the upset against the Cardinals.
In Western's seventh, Sabith led off with a single then moved to second base on a sacrifice by Corinna Hussey. A single by Ashlie Morris and a bobble by SJFC centerfielder Jessica Smyrski put runners on second and third base.
Sabith hesitated on a high-chopping ball in front of the plate, off the bat of Nina Wojtkiewicz, and was gunned down at the plate. Wojtkiewicz never stopped running and runners remained at second and third for the Colonials.
Jessica Caturano, with a single up the middle, drove Morris in with the tying run. On the play Wojtiewicz was obstructed as she rounded third base and awarded the plate with what would prove to be the game-winning run. For good measure, Western added an insurance run when Michaela Roche singled Caturano in from second one batter later.
After Sabith struck out lead-off hitter Meghan Burns in the bottom half of the seventh, Smyrski singled but was forced out at second on a fielder's choice by Kayla Goodberlet.
Back-to-back walks from Sabith loaded the bases for the Cardinals. A ground out by Danielle Leone to Caturano at second ended St. John Fisher's comeback attempt and the game.
Sabith improves to 14-7 on the season. She went the distance, allowed six hits, struck out four and walked six. Only one of her six free passes came into score for the Cardinals.
After a scoreless inning and a half, St. John Fisher worked out two straight walks from Western starter Alle Sabith. Leanne Merchant and Sarah Fordyce reach on the free passes.
Leone reached on a fielder's choice, moving Merchant over to third base. Olivia Fusilli struck out and Sabith went ahead on Krista Robarge, 0-2, but could not escape damage from the Cardinals. Robarge laced a ball to right center and brought Merchant in for the game's first run.
An infield single to the right side by Kate Disbow plated Leone for a 2-0 advantage SJF.
Burns stranded a pair of runners when Sabith caught her looking a strike three in the second inning.
The Colonials cut their deficit in half in the top of half of the third inning. With two outs, Morris recorded Western's first hit of the game, a sharp roller through the middle. Wojtkiewicz followed with a single off the glove of first baseman Fordyce. Morris moved around to third on the hit. With Caturano at the dish, Wojtkiewicz got into a run down and safely returned to first base while Morris came into score.
Merchant hit her sixth home run of the season, a long shot over the wall in right center field with two outs in the bottom of the third inning.
Morris saved a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. With runners on second and third with two outs, Morris laid out to rob Leone and end the frame.
In the Colonials' half of the sixth, Wojtkiewicz walked then moved to second on a wild pitch from Stefanon then onto third base on a sacrifice bunt by Caturano.
On a failed squeeze attempt by Michaela Roche, Wojtkiewicz was caught in a run down, but after three changes of direction, she scored when Fordyce could not hold onto the ball. Western trailed 3-2.
Back-to-back singles from Roche and Julia Bocek threatened the Cardinals lead, but two straight strike outs by the Empire 8 Pitcher of the Year ended further carnage.
Roche, Sabith and Morris led the Colonials' nine-hit attack with a pair of hits each.
Stefanon allowed nine hits, struck out six and walked one. She is now 21-6 on the season.
Western, which is making its 11th appearance in the NCAA tournament, will play No. 4 seed Cortland State which defeated No. 5 TCNJ, 11-4 on Thursday.
St. John Fisher drops to the loser's bracket and will face the Lions Friday.