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Liberty Drops Extra-Innings Heartbreaker to Virginia
In their second extra-innings contest in four days, the Lady Flames could not generate a comeback, as the Cavaliers of Virginia held on for a 3-2 win in 10 frames.
Liberty drops to 24-26 on the year, while Virginia improves to 23-30 in 2011.
The Cavaliers scored two runs on two hits to take a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Giannina Cipolloni singled to the pitcher, then stole second. After Alison Pittman was out on a sac bunt, Erica Cipolloni walked, then recorded a stolen base. Both runners came home when Stephanie Harris singled up the middle.
Ashley Bensinger led off the bottom of the first with a single through the left side for Liberty's first hit of the contest. But she was thrown out at second on the next play, when Katie Zavodny bunted into a fielder's choice. An out later, Zavodny moved into scoring position by stealing second, but Kaylee West struck out to end the frame.
In the bottom of the fourth, Zavodny reached on a muffed throw by the second baseman, then moved to second on a sac bunt by Meredith Crisante.
West then drove in a run with her second double on the day, a shot down the left field line. After Kelly Strickland singled, pinch runner Marybeth Sciolino came home on a sac fly to center field by Jenny Law, tying the game at 2-all.
The Cavaliers put a runner on third in the top of the sixth, threatening to take a lead. Stephanie Harris led off with a single through the left side, and advanced to second on a wild pitch by reliever Katrina Johnson, who had replaced Alyssa DiMartino.
Harris then moved to third on a sac bunt by Alex Skinkis, but Johnson came up with two big strikeouts, fanning Karli Johnson and Cynthia Javaras for the third out.
After a quiet Liberty at-bat, Marcy Bowdren singled up the middle, but was picked off by Bensinger during the next at-bat. Taylor Williams then grounded out to the pitcher, and Giannina Cipolloni struck out swinging to send the game into the bottom of the seventh.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Sammi Shivock singled to shallow left center. But pinch hitter Keely McMillon popped out, and the contest entered extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, Erica Cipolloni singled through the left side with one out, and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. But Harris flied out to center, and Skinkis struck out swinging to keep Virginia from taking a lead.
Neither team could score in the ninth, sending the game into the 10th and bringing the international tiebreaker rule into effect.
The Cavaliers started the top of the 10th with Bowdren placed on second base. In a trick play, Bensinger tossed the ball to center fielder Amber DePasquale, who had snuck in to second. DePasquale then tagged the runner for the first out.
Williams then reached on an infield single, and promptly stole second. After Giannina Cipolloni singled to center, Pittman was hit by a pitch to load the bases with only one out.
Erica Cipolloni was up next, and hit a long fly ball that sailed over the head of Law in right field, allowing Williams to score. But Giannina Cipolloni was caught trying to score, as she was thrown out at home. But the damage was done, and Virginia had a 3-2 lead.
The Lady Flames started the bottom of the 10th with Strickland placed on first. Law reached on a popped up bunt that landed far enough in front of the first baseman, and Strickland moved to third.
After Shivock popped out to second for the first out, Woods struck out swinging for out number two. But DePasquale was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two outs, keeping Liberty's hopes alive.
But Bensinger flied out to center field on the next play, and Virginia walked away with the 3-2 win.
The Lady Flames were led by Law, who was 1-for-3 with an RBI, and West, who was 1-for-4 and drove in a run with her second double of the day.
Harris paced the visitors, going 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
Mitchell (16-16) picked up the win in the circle, giving up five hits and no earned runs while striking out 17 batters in 10 innings of work.
Johnson drops to 12-10 on the year after giving up six hits and one earned run while striking out eight batters in five complete innings.
The Lady Flames will conclude the 2011 regular season this weekend, taking on Coastal Carolina in a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday in Conway, S.C.