Aztecs Edge `Dogs in Nine-Inning Series Finale, 2-0
April 13, 2014
FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno State softball team (23-14, 8-4) wrapped up its biggest series of the year so far with a hard-fought 2-0 loss to San Diego State (29-11, 6-3) in nine innings Sunday afternoon at Bulldog Diamond.
The 1,291 fans in attendance were treated to a pitcher's dual between a pair of returning All-MW sophomore pitchers.
For the `Dogs, Jill Compton (14-7) pitched the opening 8.1 innings, struck out four, walked two, allowed seven hits, and both of her two runs allowed were earned.
Danielle O'Toole (21-5) also pitched 8.1 innings, struck out five, walked none, and gave up a Fresno State hit in both the seventh and eighth innings for the returning NCAA Tournament advancer Aztecs.
Entering the weekend ranked third nationally in wins, the left-hander earned even more respect Sunday after she left the game in the seventh inning with an ankle injury, then returned an inning later to retire the Bulldogs' final five hitters.
"It was a postseason type of battle, and that's a challenge we welcome," Fresno State softball head coach Trisha Ford said. "Unfortunately we came up a little short, but our goal coming into the weekend was to win the series, and we achieved that. The heart of our lineup struggled at times this weekend, but we still found ways to win, and I'm proud of our team. Our defense was phenomenal again today, and Brooke (Ortiz) did a fantastic job at shortstop on some tough plays. At the plate, she had a key hit late, and Paige (Gumz) likewise had a big double. Whitney (Smith) had a lot of great swings this weekend, and just missed extending her hit streak."
Both teams failed to score until the ninth inning when the returning MW champions scored both of their runs.
For SDSU, All-Region returnee Patrice Jackson led off with a walk, and scored on a double by Jaylene Ignacio over a running attempt by the left fielder at the warning track. After a single by Hayley Miles up the middle and Frankie Orlando sacrifice bunt loaded the bases, Dominique Dinner lined an RBI single to left field.
With the bases still loaded, Fresno State sophomore reliever Hannah Harris got both her outs on the next at-bat with a force-out double play from the shortstop to home to third base. That combination was the 18th double play of the season for the `Dogs and a category that it ranked 16th nationally in this past week.
In the seventh inning, senior shortstop Brooke Ortiz rapped the `Dogs' first hit of the game to left field with one out. Two pitches later, she stole second base, and advanced to third base on an infield single by senior first baseman Stesha Brazil. O'Toole tried to field Brazil's high chopper, but injured her ankle behind the pitching rubber while trying to make the throw (and instead collapsed in the dirt).
With two outs, Aztec reliever Erica Romero came in and finished the seventh inning with a grounder to second base.
She faced three two more batters in the eighth inning, but was pulled with one out after sophomore catcher Paige Gumz lined her fourth double of the year to left center field, and a hit by pitch of junior DP Kelly Megee. O'Toole re-entered the game and got the next two batters on strikeouts to keep matter scoreless.
Altogether, San Diego State stranded seven runners for the game and had runners at second base with one out in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. However, Compton answered each challenge by forcing two straight outs.
Bulldog senior center fielder Brenna Moss and sophomore second baseman Whitney Smith saw their team season high 14- and 13-game hit streaks come to a close Sunday. The latter was robbed of a single in the eighth inning when reliever Erica Romano and her glove deflected a liner up the middle right to the second baseman who threw it to first base for the out.
Just like Saturday night's game-ender Moss added another highlight reel, diving catch in the first inning on a sinking line drive by Sydnee Cable. Three innings later, she almost gloved Jackson's drive to to right center field, and still got up, raced back, retrieved the ball at the wall to hold her to a double.
Factoring in Fresno State's 5-4 win Friday and 2-0 victory Saturday, the `Dogs and Aztecs are now tied for first place in the conference with .667 winning percentages with San Jose State (6-3), while UNLV followed in fourth place (7-5, .583).
In other action Sunday around the league, San Jose State beat New Mexico (5-0), Colorado State topped UNLV (10-4), and Boise State edged Nevada (8-4).
Overall for the three-game series, Gumz led Fresno State in hitting (.444, 4H, 2B, SB), and three others topped .300 - senior outfielder Kapri Angotti (.400, 2H, SB), Smith (.333, 3H, 2B, RBI) and Moss (.333, 3H, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, 3 SB).
On Friday, Compton got the win in the opener for her seven-strikeout, one-walk complete game. Harris followed with her second shutout of the year in Saturday's second game, and struck out two, walked one and allowed only three hits.
Looking ahead, Fresno State will play a doubleheader at St. Mary's on Wednesday at 1 p.m., then plays a single contest at Santa Clara on Thursday at 6 p.m. Both dates were adjusted from earlier schedules to help make up for five games rained out last month in the San Diego Classic I.
Pitchers: San Diego State - O'TOOLE; ROMERO(9) and ORLANDO. Fresno State - Compton, Jill; HARRIS, Hannah(9) and Gumz, Paige. Win-O'TOOLE(21-5) Loss-COMPTON, Jill(14-7) T-2:11 A-1291. Weather: 71, sunny, wind 1-4mph
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