SPRINGFIELD, Mass.—Sophomore Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) blasted a walk-off, two-run homer, to send UMass Boston softball to the NCAA Tournament Regional Final on Saturday afternoon at Potter Field.
UMass Boston 3, Springfield College 1
UMass Boston 4, Salve Regina University 2
(UMass Boston 30-12)
(Springfield College 32-11)
(Salve Regina 26-13)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Vento had a huge day at the plate. She finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored, two RBI and also reached on a walk and hit by pitch. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Vento calmly blasted a ball off the scoreboard in left, to score Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) and herself.
The home run made a winner out of freshman Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) who was phenomenal on the day.
Greenspan threw all 14 innings and allowed eight hits and three earned runs, while striking out five and walking two. She shut down the first 16 Seahawks batters she faced, and did not allow a hit in the regional semifinal until there was one out in the seventh.
UMass Boston took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the first and never looked back, as Greenspan ended the season of the host Springfield College Pride.
After giving up a two-out, solo home run in the top of the first, Greenspan limited the Pride to just six hits and no runs the rest of the way. With the win, Greenspan became the first player in school history to win 20 games in a season.
Senior Gia Raczkowski (Stoneham, Mass.) paced the Beacons offensively. Raczkowski drove in the Beacons' first and third runs and ripped a double for her lone hit.
Vento added two hits in two at-bats and a run scored, while sophomore Alyssa Tulley (Lowell, Mass.) drove in the game-winning run with a single in the first
Prusmack and Kaitlyn "KMO" Morse each had a run scored and a hit in the win.
Springfield College pitcher Shelby Allen took the loss in the final game of the season for the Pride. The sophomore allowed seven hits and three earned runs, while striking out three.
New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference Player of the Year Kirsten Drobiak gave Springfield their only lead of the tournament with a two-out homer over the center field fence in the first.
The Beacons answered back immediately in the bottom half. Morse opened the rally with a single through the left side and moved to second when Vento was hit by a pitch. Raczkowski tied the game by driving a double into the right-center field gap to plate Morse. Tulley followed with a single through the middle against a drawn-in infield to make it 2-1 UMass Boston.
Springfield put a single runner on in the second, third and fourth, before really threatening in the fifth. Rachel Ball hit a one-out single and tried to come all the way home on Talia Loda's double to the wall in right. After slipping, Raczkowski threw a laser to Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) and Braga's throw beat Ball home for the second out.
UMass Boston added a key insurance run in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, the Beacons loaded the bases on singles from Prusmack and Vento and an error on a Morse bunt. Raczkowski drove in Prusmack with a hard RBI groundout, as the ball deflected off the pitcher and to the second baseman, with the fielder's only play at first base.
Springfield put two runners on with two outs in the sixth, but Morse made an unbelievable play to end the inning. Sam Cox lined a ball up the middle that Morse popped up to herself and then made a running catch on the second effort in shallow center field.
Greenspan sent Springfield down in order in the seventh to help the Beacons earn their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory.
The second game was the Jess Greenspan show, as the freshman dominated the Seahawks in the third meeting of the year between the two teams.
Greenspan shut Salve Regina down in order through the first five innings and allowed just one hit and two walks in seven innings.
Vento paced the offensive attack with one hit, two runs scored and two RBI against Commonwealth Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year Kelsey Boarman. Prusmack added three hits and a run scored.
Boarman was the tough-luck loser, as the senior threw her collegiate game. She allowed six hits, four runs (three earned) and struck out four. Boarman ends her senior season at 18-5.
After a 1-2-3 top of the first, UMass Boston jumped all over the Seahawks in the top of the first.
Prusmack led off with a bunt single, but was erased on a fielder's choice. Morse, who reached on the fielder's choice, moved to second on a Vento walk and to third on a hard-hit single from Raczkowski. On the next play, Tulley hit a hard-hit grounder to short and the shortstop looked home. After a moment's hesitation, the shortstop threw a bouncing ball past the first baseman to allow Vento to follow Morse home and make it 2-0.
With a 2-0 lead and all her pitches working, Greenspan ran into zero trouble over the next four frames. UMass Boston put runners on in the second and fourth, but couldn't push across an insurance run.
Salve Regina knotted the game at 2-2 in the sixth inning by manufacturing a pair of runs without a hit.
Kristen Hickey worked a one-out walk for the first Salve runner of the game. On the next play, Lindsey Florent was given first base on a close hit-by-pitch call. The Seahawks then hit into three-straight fielder's choices, with the Beacons failing to get an out. With the game tied at 2-2 and the bases loaded, Emily Woznick popped up to shallow right and Morse caught the ball and then threw out the runner tagging from third base.
Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) singled and moved to second in the bottom of the sixth, but the Beacons' couldn't make the Seahawks pay.
Nikki Bukovsky broke up Greenspan's no-hitter with a one-out single in the seventh. She moved to second on a walk, but Greenspan retired the next two batters on fly outs to the outfield.
UMass Boston made the Seahawks pay in the bottom of the seventh. Prusmack beat out an infield single with one out and moved to second on a bunt. With two down, Vento blasted her second homer in as many days, to help the Beacons' walkoff.
BY THE NUMBERS
- UMass Boston earned their first and second NCAA Tournament wins in program history. The Beacons became the second female team in UMass Boston history to earn an NCAA Tournament win. The Beacons also tied the women's volleyball program for most wins in a season by a female team with 30 (2009 and 2010). UMass Boston Baseball set the program record with 32 wins in 2010-when they went to the College World Series.
- Vento set the program record for hits in a single-season in game one. She passed assistant coach Sue Kililea ('13) with 59 hits on the season. She also moved just four total bases shy of Kililea's single-season mark of 93 total bases during the 2010 season.
- Morse moved with one at-bat of tying the program record for at-bats in a single-season (138). Taryn Asta ('13) set the program mark in 2013.
- UMass Boston scored two runs in the first innings of both games on Saturday. The Beacons have now scored at least one run in the first inning in five of their last six games.
- Today's contest was the first-ever meeting between Springfield and UMass Boston and the third this year between the Beacons and Seahawks. The Beacons split with Salve Regina on April 3 and UMass Boston improved to 5-6 all-time against the Seahawks with their win today.
UMass Boston will take on Amherst College on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament Regional Final Championship Series. The Beacons who fell to the Mammoths 11-2 in five innings on Friday, will need to beat Amherst twice to win the regional. Sunday's game one is slated for a 1 p.m. start.