Long balls fuel spring break sweep
Denison blasted four home runs in a pair of 3-1 victories over Heidelberg and Westfield State on Thursday from the National Training Center in Clermont, Fla. With the two wins, the Big Red returns to Ohio with a 5-3 record.
In the opener, the Berg used a walk, a single and an error to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first. Heidelberg grabbed the early lead thanks to a sacrifice fly to left by Mikaela Mitsch. With two runners in scoring position, DU starter Rebecca Dyer got Marissa Smego to pop out to Julie Rooney and fanned A.J. Stuck to escape the jam. Dyer found herself in another bases-loaded situation in the third, but the junior got out of trouble once again with another strikeout.
Denison tied the game in the top of the fourth when junior Rachel Laughlin knocked a 1-2 pitch over the right field wall. In the fifth, junior Gretchen Staubach sent the first pitch of the inning out of the park for her first home run of the year. The second Big Red long ball forced a Heidelberg pitching change. Dyer roped a double to center off her new counterpart. With one out, Rooney laced a base hit to center that scored Dyer and gave DU a 3-1 lead.
The Berg moved a runner into scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings, but, in both cases, Dyer retired the side unscathed. In the bottom of the seventh, a pair of walks and a single put the game-winning run at first with only one out. Dyer need just three pitches to strike out Jordan Crase for the second out of the inning. With two down and a full count on Lydia Strover, the junior fired a pitch past the Heidelberg hitter to nail down her third win of the season.
Dyer gave up one run on five hits with 10 strikeouts, while Nicola Gabrielle suffered the loss after giving up two runs on three this in four innings of work. Staubach went 2-for-2 with a home run, while Rooney also posted two hits and an RBI.
In game two, the Big Red and Owls did all the scoring in the first inning. Westfield State plated its lone run on a fielding miscue. Rooney quickly erased the deficit when she went yard on an 0-1 pitch by Kelley Fluet. Sophomore Emily Lipsitz followed up the homer with a single down the left field line. The Big Red grabbed the lead thanks to another home run to right field by Laughlin. The long ball was the ninth of Laughlin's career and her second on the day.
The Owls were primed to cut into the deficit in the third with the bases loaded and one out. However, junior hurler Kelsey Hager induced a 1-2-3 double play to escape the jam. That double play sparked a string of 10-straight outs for the Big Red pitcher. The third inning also marked the last time Westfield State put a runner in scoring position.
Hager improved to 2-2 on the year after giving up an unearned run, scattering three hits and striking out six in seven frames. Laughlin finished 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs, while Jess Robertson and Dyer each legged out a double.
Denison (5-3) returns to action on Wednesday when they host Muskingum University. First pitch from Granville is slated for 3:30 p.m.