Twelve combined innings of strong pitching and a 7-3 lead in the seventh inning of today's second game weren't enough for UB Softball to get a win in either game against Quinnipiac and Hampton this afternoon. Buffalo fell to the Bobcats 3-1 and to the Pirates 8-7 after a disastrous final inning.
Head Coach Trena Peel got for the most part quality pitching on the day, as both sophomore Charlotte Miller against Quinnipiac and freshman Ally Power against Hampton allowed only three runs before being pulled after six innings.
Against Quinnipiac, the Bulls were undone by a punchless offence, held without a hit or baserunner until the fourth inning, when they scored their lone run of the game on an infield single from Lauren Gambone and subsequent throwing error. UB had a leadoff runner in the 6th and the tying run on base, but Savanna Norcio was TOOTBLANned* off second on a sacrifice bunt.
The Bobcats' only runs in that one came in the second inning, bolstered by three errors (UB had four in the game), but UB couldn't turn the odd baserunner through the late innings into a few more runs, even as Miller was charged with no earned runs and Brieanna Baker pitched a scoreless seventh.
The afternoon game against Hampton looked to be going much better before the Pirates' last gasp. Though Hampton also scored three early runs, also unearned on the strength of four Buffalo errors, the UB offense had an easier time even after squandering a bases-loaded opportunity in the second.
In successive at-bats Courtney Gilbert tripled and doubled, scoring both times and driving in a pair of runs. Fellow freshman and WNY native Katie Weimer appeared to be the hero, bunting home Gilbert on a squeeze play to tie the game, and hitting a three-run homer in her next at-bat to give UB a 6-3 lead, one that would stretch to 7-3 an inning later on a Nicollette Jacobs sacrifice fly.
Heading into the final inning, the Bulls would enjoy that four run lead thanks to Ally Power's work in the pitching circle, especially in the later innings. After six she had matched Miller's performance from earlier in the day, allowing three runs - none earned - and striking out six.
But Trena Peel pulled the freshman to put in Bobbi Langlois, and, well, that didn't work out. Langlois put the first three Hampton batters on base, and Power was immediately thrust back into the circle with the tying run at the plate. Despite a pair of further strikeouts, the freshman couldn't stem the momentum in time, and the hosts tied the game on a small ball rally and a few miscues - officially not errors - from the middle of UB's infield before winning on a walk-off hit by pitch.
It's a bitter result for the Bulls, who looked plenty like last year's team in racking up the errors and giving up a late rally despite a number of critical contributions from the young foundation of the program. Hindsight is of course 20/20, but the decision to remove Power for Langlois was particularly disastrous. I felt that Power was getting stronger as the game went on, and it's all the more puzzling considering Lace Smith was not one of UB's four pitchers used today, after two weeks off. We'll wait until we see the whole of the weekend before we say much more, but it's curious.
The Bulls wrap up their weekend in Virginia tomorrow with games against Rhode Island and Princeton.