Cervantes' Solo Homer in Seventh Leads to Extra-Inning Victory
May 4, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. - With two outs in the bottom of the seventh and Kentucky trailing by a score, senior Brittany Cervantes tattooed a ball to deep center to tie the game at 3-3 forcing the game into extra innings. In the extra frame, an LSU error in left field allowed Ashleigh Gustafsonto score from second and tally the winning run in a come-from behind 4-3 upset of No. 22 LSU in front of 922 fans at the UK Softball Complex on Friday night.
"I was really proud of my team tonight," UK head coach Rachel Lawsonsaid. "For these girls to show the resiliency they did and continue to fight back against one of the best teams in our league really shows you something."
With the win, Kentucky climbs back to .500 at 27-27 overall including a 13-13 mark in the Southeastern Conference. LSU falls to 34-19 overall with a 15-11 SEC mark.
Senior Chanda Bellstruck out 10 batters and allowed less than three runs for the fourth consecutive outing in a complete-game victory. The senior limited the Tigers to a mere four hits in the win as she improves to 15-10 on the season.
"Chanda continued to get stronger and stronger as the game went on," Lawson said. "She really pitched well tonight."
LSU hurler Rachele Fico entered the night as the NCAA leader with a microscopic 0.90 ERA in 28 appearances in the circle. With the loss, Fico falls to 16-10 overall as she struck out eight and yielded an uncharacteristic three earned runs to the Blue and White.
With two down in the bottom of the seventh, Cervantes delivered yet again and crushed a ball out of the park to straight-away center to tie the game at three apiece. The plastered long ball was Cervantes' 11th dinger of the season and third run driven in on the night after also plating the two scores in the bottom of the fifth.
"Brittany's home run to tie the game was by far the best home run I have ever seen from her in her career," Lawson said. "For her to come up big in a situation like that really shows what a clutch player she is and how big she is to this team."
In the top of the eighth, Bell sent the Tigers packing in 1-2-3 style, setting the stage for the bottom of the eighth inning.
Senior Rachel Riley got aboard to lead off the inning to start the Wildcats rally with her second walk of the contest. After a pop out to center, sophomore Ginny Carroll drew Fico's fourth walk on the night to set runners at first and second. Junior Alice O'Brien then sent a screamer to left field that was misplayed by the Tigers' Ashley Langoni enabling pinch runner Ashleigh Gustafsonto round home from second for the walk-off score.
Bell got off to a quick start, retiring the first six batters in order including four strikeouts in that stretch. The Tigers, however, struck first in the top of the third when second basemen Allison Falcon connected for a solo homer. The round tripper was Falcon's third of the season, giving LSU the 1-0 lead. The homer was the first Tiger batter that Bell failed to retire in the game, after sending the opening six batters down in order.
LSU's Morgan Russell and Dylan Supak drew consecutive walks after the homer, turning the lineup over for A.J. Andrews who struck out recording the first out in the inning. Cervantes fielded a hard foul ball up the third-base line to record the 5-3 putout before Bell got LSU three-hole hitter Langoni to strike out swinging on three pitches.
Juliana Santos led off the top of the fourth roping her seventh double of the season to straight away center to put a runner in scoring position with nobody out in the inning. Santos came in for the second Tiger run on Ashley Applegate's RBI single. After advancing to second on a throwing error, and advancing to third on a deep fly ball to center, she was stranded at third after Bell tallied her eighth strikeout on the night.
After a lead-off walk by Dylan Supak, Andrews roped a triple to deep center that rolled all the way to the wall. Pinch running from first was Heidi Parker and she was out at home after Joiner held onto the ball after a hard collision at the dish. The putout at home was courtesy of Kara Howardin center who relayed the ball to Dill, who sent it into Joiner recording the 8-6-2 put out and saving an all-important run.
With one away in the inning, Andrews came around to score on a deep sacrifice fly to left by Cassie Trosclair. The run was the third consecutive inning LSU registered a run, increasing its lead to 3-0 through four and a half.
Freshman Sarah Frazer was darted with a pitch to become the Wildcats' fourth base runner on the night in the home half of the fifth. Sophomore Emily Jollythen blooped a hit over the pitcher's head that fell in front of the second basemen, and both Frazer and Jolly were safe on the play. Cervantes stepped up and catapulted a ball off the wall in right-center to bring home Frazer and Jolly to cut the lead to 3-2.
"For us to be able to get the two runs in the bottom of the fifth was huge when we really had nothing going at the plate." Lawson said.
In the bottom of the opening frame, Kentucky drew two walks from Fico with Riley and freshman Griffin Joinerreaching on back-to-back plate appearances with two outs in the inning, but the inning would close with the runners still aboard.
After Bell sent down the Tigers in order in the opening half of the second, sophomore Lauren Cumbessregistered the first hit of the game for both parties, lacing a hit through the right side of the defense with one away in the inning. The Wildcats would strand Cumbess, leaving a runner aboard for the second consecutive inning.
The Tigers and Wildcats will continue the series Saturday afternoon in Lexington as first pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.
Stay tuned to UKAthletics.com for more updates on the UK Softball season.