No. 3 Alabama splits Saturday's action
STANFORD, Calif. -- Alabama split its two games on Saturday at the Stanford Nike Invitational, winning an extra-inning pitcher's duel against Cal Poly 1-0 before falling to Stanford 4-1 for the first loss of the season.
Alabama (10-1) couldn't muster much offense in either game, as the Crimson Tide was held scoreless until extra innings against Cal Poly (4-4) and was limited to just one run against Stanford (6-3). Chaunsey Bell and Haylie McCleney each earned a pair of hits between the two games, with McCleney driving in the Tide's lone run against Stanford. Danielle Richard drove in the Tide's game-winning run against Cal Poly on an eighth-inning sacrifice fly. The Tide pitchers combined for 19 strikeouts and just four runs allowed on six hits.
Alabama was held scoreless against Cal Poly through regulation and wouldn't earn a hit until the fourth inning. Likewise, Cal Poly was held hitless until the seventh inning, as Alabama starter Sydney Littlejohn (4-0) threw a gem in the complete game victory, striking out a career-high 10 batters. Mustang starter Sierra Hyland (3-2) matched Littlejohn throughout the game, holding the potent Tide offense to its lowest scoring output this season but ultimately fell in the eighth inning.
The game was a pitcher's duel for the majority of the game, as the Tide was held hitless until Bell dropped a fourth-inning single into shallow right, though the offense could not drive her home. Cal Poly wouldn't get its first baserunner until the top of the sixth, as Breana West was hit by a pitch but the Mustang offense could not advance her as it remained scoreless.
Cal Poly would break up Littlejohn's no-hit bid in the top of the seventh and the runner was sacrificed into scoring position in the next at-bat. Alabama made a bid to win it in regulation, as Chandler Dare hit a two-out single down the right field line but the Tide were not able to drive her in as the two teams headed to extra innings.
After sitting down Cal Poly in order in the top of the eighth, Alabama started the bottom half with McCleney placed on second base and Demi Turner due up. Turner laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance McCleney 60 feet closer and Richard launched a high fly ball into left field, allowing McCleney to tag up and slide into home for the winning run as the Tide outlasted the Mustangs for the one-run win.
The Tide suffered its first loss of the season in Saturday's second game of the Stanford Nike Invitational, as the Cardinal defeated Alabama 4-1.
Alabama left nine runners on base in the low-scoring loss and out-hit Stanford 7-5, but the Cardinal strung together timely hits in the middle innings to edge out the win. Alabama starter Leslie Jury (3-1) went the distance in the loss with a season-high nine strikeouts, while Haley Snyder (4-3) earned the win in relief for the Cardinal, throwing four shutout innings.
Stanford got on the board first as Leah White roped an RBI double into left field in the first inning. With the bases loaded in the top of the second, a hard bases-loaded infield single by McCleney could not be corralled by the Cardinal third baseman as that drove in Danae Hays to tie it at 1-1.
A single and a pair of walks to begin the fourth inning loaded the bases for Stanford, but Jury bounced back with a force-out at home and a strikeout to put two outs on the board. A bases-loaded walk brought home the go-ahead run for Stanford but a strikeout limited the damage as the Cardinal could only pull ahead by one.
In the fifth inning, Stanford's Kayla Bonstrom hit a one-out double to the left field wall and, two batters later, Kylie Sorenson hit one to the same spot to drive in Bonstrom and extend the Cardinal lead to 3-1. Alabama squandered an opportunity to score in the top of the sixth, stranding two in scoring position as they could not cut into the deficit.
Stanford tacked on an insurance run in the sixth inning to make it 4-1 and Alabama had the potential tying run at the plate in the top of the seventh, but a groundout ended the game as the Cardinal held on to win.