The Univeristy of Hawai'i softball team (24-28, 8-11 Big West) rallied in the top of the seventh to score the go-ahead run on an RBI-double by Nicole Lopez which drove in Sarah Muzik to lift UH to a 3-2 win. Brittany Hitchcock improved to 13-14 overall with her 18th complete game of the season in the opener of the three-game Big West Conference series at Long Beach State on Friday afternoon at the LBSU Softball Complex.
Hitchcock gave up two runs while scattering four hits with three walks and an uncharacteristic five walks in the game. Hitchcock, who came into the game leading the NCAA in fewest walks per seven innings, had only issued seven walks in 164.0 innings prior to today's game. Hitchcock has earned her last four straight wins and is now 6-6 in the Big West.
Long Beach State's Christina Clermont fell to 20-10 overall. She gave up three runs on five hits with two walks and five walks as well. For Clermont, it marked her 22nd complete game of the season.
The 49ers's took an early 1-0 lead after Tierra Falo led off the bottom of the second with a solo home run over the leftfield fence. Hawai'i, however then retired the next three straight batters to end the frame.
Hawai'i leapfrogged past Long Beach State in the top of the fourth, scoring a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead. UH started the inning with a groundout to second, Heather Morales started the rally with a single to centerfield. Tayana Mata followed by drawing a walk to put runners at first and second for Rachael Turner who laced an opposite-field double to leftfield to drive in Morales from second and push Mata to third. Mata later scored on a wild pitch to give the 'Bows a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth, UH tried to mount another rally. Heather Cameron led the inning off with a walk and Sarah Muzik followed with a bunt single back to the pitcher. Nicole Lopez then pushed both runners into scoring position for Keiki Carlos. But Carlos was walked to load the bases with one out. Morales then stepped up to the plate, but lined out into a double play to short to thwart UH's opportunity.
Long Beach State knotted the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth. After striking out twice, Darian Tautalafua stepped in to hit a home run to left-centerfield to tie the game at 2-2.
But in the top of the seventh, UH rallied to re-take the lead. Muzik roped a one-out, opposite-field single to left and hustled into second after the leftfielder misplayed the ball for an error. Lopez then came to the plate and ripped a double down the third base line to drive in Muzik from second for what proved to be the winning run. For Lopez, it marked the second straight game in which she drove in the winning run in the seventh inning. Last week against Cal Poly, in UH's final home game of the season, Lopez broke a scoreless game with a solo home run to lift UH to a 1-0 win in the bottom of the eighth inning. In the opening game of the Cal Poly series, and the 'Bows down 2-0, Lopez was clutch driving in two runs on two outs with a single to tie the game. Two batters later, Morales drove in the winning run with an RBI-single with the bases loaded. Lopez extends her hitting streak to 10 games to tie her with Keiki Carlos for the longest for the team this season. Lopez has also reached base safely in 16 consecutive games.
Saturday's doubleheader will be the regular season finale for both teams. The double-dip will start at 12:00 p.m. PT at the LBSU Softball Complex. (The game was originally scheduled at 1:00 pm but game time was recently moved to accommodate ESPN3).
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