WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A walk-off single by sophomore Kara Klimaszewski (Naugatuck, Conn.) in the bottom of the eighth inning of game two lifted the University of Saint Joseph softball team to a GNAC doubleheader sweep of the Rivier University Raiders at the USJ Softball Field on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays took game one in six innings, 8-0, before completing the sweep with a 5-4, extra-inning victory in the night cap. USJ improves to 17-10 overall on the season and 10-3 in the GNAC with the wins, while Rivier slips to 10-18 overall and 4-12 in the league.
Game 1 - USJ 8, Rivier 0 (6 inn.)
The Blue Jays pushed across a pair of runs in the second inning, three in the fourth and three more in the sixth to claim an 8-0, shutout victory in six innings in the opener on Saturday against Rivier.
Freshman Megan Ricci (Center Moriches, N.Y.) got things started for USJ in the second inning when she laced a two-out, RBI triple to drive in the first run of the game. She would then score on a wild pitch to give the Blue Jays an early 2-0 lead.
In the fourth inning, freshman Taylor Marino (Middlefield, Conn.) would make it 3-0 with a RBI single before sophomore Morgan Skoly (Vernon, Conn.) followed with another RBI single to build a 4-0 advantage. Classmate Isabella Russo (Southington, Conn.) stepped in next and recorded a RBI sacrifice bunt to push across the third run of the inning and extend the lead to 5-0 after four innings of play.
The Blue Jays would shorten the game to a six-inning affair with three more runs in the bottom half of the sixth. A pair of singles wrapped around a walk loaded the bases to begin the inning and then a Rivier error allowed the first run of the frame to score and make it 6-0. Junior Sarah Ercoli (East Granby, Conn.) then ended the game with a walk-off, two-RBI single to score Marino and Skoly and account for the 8-0 final margin.
Freshman Amaria Sharon (Tolland, Conn.) was spectacular in the circle for the Blue Jays in game one tossing a complete game four-hitter and striking out three Raiders. She walked one and improves her record to 14-6 on the season with the victory.
Skoly, Ricci, Marino and sophomore Rachel Dube (Southington, Conn.) each picked up a pair of hits in the first game. Ricci finished 2-for-3 with a triple, RBI and three runs scored.
Game 2 - USJ 5, Rivier 4 (8 inn.)
It was the Raiders who would strike first in the second game, wasting little time and pushing across a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Senior Jessica Cote (Nashua, N.H.) got the visitors on the board with a RBI single for the game's first run before freshman Kendall Stanton (Rochester, N.H.) followed two batters later with a two-out, RBI single to give Rivier an early 2-0 cushion.
St. Joseph would respond immediately though and cut its deficit in half with a run of its own in the bottom half of the first. Sharon singled to leadoff the inning and then was driven in by Dube with a RBI single three batters later to make it 2-1 Rivier.
Rivier punched right back in the top of the second inning with a clutch two-out hit from Cote to extend its lead to 4-1. With runners on second and third, the senior ripped a single to bring home a pair and give her three RBI through the first two innings of action.
The Blue Jays did not fret however, and began to mount a comeback in the bottom of the third frame. With runners on the corners Ercoli pulled USJ one run closer with a RBI single to make it 4-2 and then a wild pitch during the next at-bat allowed Skoly to trot home from third to get USJ within one, 4-3.
Klimaszewski would then become the impact player for the remainder of the game. She led off the fourth inning with a double before coming around to score the tying run on a RBI single from freshman Brianna Barfield (North Attleboro, Mass.). That would set the stage for the dramatic in the bottom of the eighth inning as neither team could push across a run over the final three innings of regulation.
In the eighth, Ercoli was placed on second to begin the inning and then a single followed by an intentional walk would load the bases for Klimaszewski with no outs. She stepped in a laced a single up the middle to drive in the game-winning, walk-off RBI for the 5-4 final and to complete the sweep of Rivier.
Sharon once again earned the victory inside the circle for the Blue Jays, this time coming on in relief in the top of the third inning. She spun the final six frames without allowing a run and gave up just a pair of base hits. She struck out two and improved her record to 15-6 with the win.
Klimaszewski, Dube and Barfield led the charge for the USJ offense in the second game as they each posted a pair of hits. Klimaszewski finished 2-for-4 with a double, RBI and a run scored.
The USJ softball team will return to action next on Sunday with another GNAC doubleheader on the road at Simmons College beginning at noon.