SU Rallies to Take First ACC Series of the Year
By Sam Lebowitz
CitrusTV Softball Beat Reporter
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Syracuse (10-10, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) came from behind when it counted against North Carolina (9-13, 3-3 Atlantic Coast) as they took the rubber match in their first conference series of the season.
Syracuse was forced to play from behind three separate times in the game. UNC scored first in the bottom of the first on an obstruction call at home plate. Campbell Hutcherson tried to score on the back end of a double steal. The throw beat her to the dish by a wide margin, but Jude Padilla illegally blocked the plate, giving the Tar Heels the early advantage.
Syracuse tied the game in the third when Toni Martin poked a single into shallow right field. The hit scored Jamie Gregg, who was on base following the second of her four hits on the day.
It did not take long for UNC to jump back in front. Alexa Romero got the first two outs in the bottom of the third but walked Hutcherson in front of a two-run homer by Megan Dray.
But once again, the Syracuse offense was up to the task and immediately mounted a rally. Rebecca Clyde continued a strong weekend with a single, followed by a Gabby Teran walk, to give Syracuse a two-out chance. Gregg drove home Clyde with her third consecutive infield single and Neli Casares-Maher ripped a line drive over the right fielder’s head for a two-run triple to give Syracuse a 4-3 lead.
Catie Dobbs replaced Romero with two runners in scoring position and one out in the bottom of the fourth. Aided by a strikeout, Dobbs got out of the jam unscathed. However, she could not do the same in the fifth. UNC got runners to second and third again, and with two out, Bri Stubbs blooped a single over Clyde’s head into left field for a run-scoring single to tie the game.
In the sixth inning, Katie Perkins led off against Dobbs by striking out. However, she reached first base as the third strike got by Jude Padilla for a passed ball. That proved to be an important moment, as Perkins would later come around to score on a sacrifice fly. Syracuse would need to mount a rally in the seventh inning to keep the game alive.
Toni Martin took a pitch off the elbow to lead off the frame. AJ Kaiser pinch hit for Mia Cunnings and tapped a slow grounder to the left of the mound. Hannah George fielded it and threw it to second for the force out, but Martin slid in ahead of the throw. Syracuse was in business with two on and none out. Lailoni Mayfield ripped the next pitch into centerfield to bring home Martin with the tying tally. Later in the inning, with the bases loaded, Miranda Hearn hit a slow roller to second base, forcing Campbell Hutcherson to get the out at first and let the go-ahead run score. Gabby Teran put the capper on the inning with a sharp single down the left field line to score two, extending the Orange lead to 8-5.
North Carolina tried to mount a rally in the bottom half, scoring a run on a grounder, but Kaia Oliver came in and shut the door.
Syracuse followed up a 13-hit performance yesterday with 11 more today. Also of note, the Orange walked five times today without striking out. Jamie Gregg reached in all five of her at bats, reaching on an error and singling four times. She and Teran share the team lead in RBI with 14 after Teran drove in five runs during the series.
On the pitching side, Alexa Romero started and had a middling effort. She lasted 3-and-a-third innings, allowed four hits and three runs, two of them earned, with two walks and three strikeouts. Her replacement, Catie Dobbs, had a similar line. In two-and-two-thirds, Dobbs allowed three runs, two of them earned, on three hits with three walks and three punchouts. Oliver notched her first save of the season, retiring all three batters to face her including two strikeouts.
Syracuse heads down to Memphis, Tennessee next weekend for five games in the Tiger Classic. They start with Purdue on Friday at 1:30 p.m.
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