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Saturday, Apr 21, 2018 at 8:39 pm

Syracuse strikes out NC State in doubleheader sweep

By Sam Rothman

In the opening game of its doubleheader against NC State (22-24, 5-14 Atlantic Coast), Syracuse (25-18, 7-11) quickly found itself down 1-0 after the first inning. Haylee Kobziak homered off SU starter Alexa Romero for the early advantage. Romero rebounded from the hit and shut the door.

“I knew that I couldn’t give up any more,” said Romero. “One was enough for them, especially if it is a home run.”

That would be the only run Romero would allow as the sophomore ended the contest with 16 strikeouts, a new career high. Her play in the circle led Syracuse to a 3-1 victory in game one. Syracuse completed the sweep as AnnaMarie Gatti finished off the day with eight strikeouts of her own in Syracuse’s 2-0 game-two shutout Saturday.

Despite giving up an early run in Romero’s first nine outs were all strikeouts. Her teammates rallied behind her in the bottom of the third, crossing home three times.

Alicia Hansen opened with a walk and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Hansen then ran home on Bryce Holmgren’s RBI single to tie the game. Syracuse then loaded the bases on two straight walks by Gabby Teran and Faith Cain. After Rachel Burkhardt was hit by a pitch, Holmgren scored to give SU the lead. But, the Orange wasn’t done yet. With two outs and bases loaded once again, Michala Maciolek’s RBI single drove home Teran for the 3-1 advantage.

“You want to have a balance between pitching and hitting,” said Syracuse head coach Mike Bosch. “If the hitters can really trust that their pitchers are going to do their job and keep them in the game, then the hitters are going to get some runs and give run support. At times, we have lost this year because we haven’t had that balance. I think you saw all facets of the game come to play today.”

After Romero’s 16 strikeout performance, senior AnnaMarie Gatti kept the strikeouts coming in game two. The senior’s eight strikeouts tied a career high.

“I never doubt that Alexa is going to average at least 12 K’s a game,” said Gatti. “It’s just another day for her. She started the first game and set the tone, and I came out and had my work cut out for me. But, I put up a fight.”

Once again, Syracuse’s offense matched its play in the circle. The Orange struck first in the second inning as Teran took advantage on a Wolfpack error.

Syracuse held onto the 1-0 lead until Maciolek drove home Teran for an insurance run in the sixth. In a close duel, Gatti was lights out for SU. But, it wasn’t easy. With runners on second and third in the fourth, the Wolfpack had the chance to get back into the game. Gatti responded with two strikeouts to get out of the jam.

“My goal is to always get better within our conference,” said Gatti. “It’s a growing conference. The more that it gets competitive, the more competitive I become. So, I am just not going to go down without a fight.”

Syracuse grabbed its first ACC doubleheader sweep at Skytop Softball Stadium since 2015. The Orange looks to grab its first ACC series sweep of the season in its series finale with the Wolfpack on Sunday.

“It means a lot to us right not, especially wanting a good spot going into the tournament,” said Romero. “Getting these two wins, and hopefully getting the win tomorrow, will really help.”

@samrothman_ | sbrothma@syr.edu