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Thursday, Apr 19, 2018 at 12:06 am

Syracuse scores 17 runs against Niagara in doubleheader sweep

By Sam Rothman

Softball Beat Reporter

SYRACUSE, N.Y.— After snapping its ACC losing skid, Syracuse looked to extend its non-conference winning streak in its doubleheader against Niagara. The Orange used its offensive firepower to sweep the Purple Eagles and make it six straight non-conference wins. SU scored 17 runs on Wednesday to come away with a 10-6 win in game one and a 7-1 victory in the second matchup.

But, it was a tough start to the day for Syracuse. After senior AnnaMarie Gatti gave up three straight walks to start the affair, Niagara took advantage with bases loaded. Freshman Margaret Vesneske hit a grand slam to give the Purple Eagles the 4-0 lead right out of the gate.

Coming into its first at bat of the game, the Orange was already in a four-run hole. But, Syracuse slowly fought its way back. Bryce Holmgren and Rachel Burkhardt started it off, both recording RBI singles to cut Niagara’s lead in half. Hannah Dossett then drove in Holmgren and Gabby Teran with a sacrifice fly to complete the comeback.

The Orange took over the lead in the third. Holmgren singled up the middle, allowing both Alicia Hansen and Michala Maciolek to cross home. All of a sudden Syracuse held the 6-4 advantage.

“It was just a matter of who wanted it more,” senior Alicia Hansen said. “We played a great team. It was just a matter of hunger. We wanted to win.”

The Purple Eagles added a solo home run in the bottom of the third to make it a one-run game. But as Niagara tried to claw its way back, SU answered with a home run of its own. Maciolek grabbed her first home run of the season to give Syracuse the 7-5 lead.

The Orange put the nail in the coffin in the sixth. Three straight RBI singles led to three straight runs. Niagara responded with a run in the top of the seventh, but that was all Syracuse would allow as SU cruised to a 10-6 victory in game one.

After going down by four runs to start off game one, the Orange flipped the script in game two.  Syracuse grabbed a 4-0 lead in the third. Hansen got her team on the board with a two-run home run to center field.

“I am not the biggest home run hitter,” said Hansen. “I am more of a base hits hitter. So it was big for me to get a home run.”

It wouldn’t be a Syracuse game without a triple. SU leads the nation in triples per game, and Gabby Teran hit her fourth triple of the season to drive in Holmgren. Teran then crossed home on a Niagara throwing error to cap off the four-run inning.

After hitting a grand slam in game one, Margaret Vesneske recorded an RBI single to get her team on the board in the fifth. But, that would be it for the Purple Eagles as they couldn’t solve Syracuse ace Alexa Romero again in the matchup. The sophomore pitcher ended the day with 14 strikeouts, tying her career high.

“Lex is amazing,” said Hansen. “It’s as simple as that. I never doubt that kid when she’s on the mound. I didn’t even realize she had 14 strikeouts because I am so used to her striking everyone out.”

Behind Romero’s strong play on the mound, the Orange answered right back as Holmgren scored on a Purple Eagles’ throwing error.

“Just having that run support really gives me confidence,” said Romero. “It helps me keep going out there and doing what I have to do.”

And with two home runs on the day already, Syracuse wasn’t done yet. Andrea Bombace hit one out of the park in the sixth and brought home Faith Cain on the play. Bombace’s first home run of the season gave SU the 7-1 lead, which would be the final.

“We were literally on the road for about two months straight,” Head Coach Mike Bosch said. “It wears on you a bit. We’ve had the opportunity here to get a little more rest. Just being at home in your own ballpark, some things go right instead of going wrong. We will see if we can continue that for the next week and a half.”

Syracuse continues its home stand with a weekend conference series against North Carolina State.

@samrothman_ | sbrothma@syr.edu