UTSA splits Saturday doubleheader at UTEP
EL PASO — UTEP rallied for a 7-6, nine-inning victory in game one before UTSA jumped to a big lead and held on for an 11-8 win in game two to split Saturday’s doubleheader at Helen of Troy Field.
Randee Crawford hit her second grand slam of the season, while Vivian Tijerina hit two solo homers for the Roadrunners (21-28, 8-12 C-USA), whose victory in game two snapped a five-game losing streak. Madison Kinley also homered for the visitors and Megan Low went 4-for-6 with a double and three RBIs on the day.
Meanwhile, Miners (16-31, 8-12 C-USA) got a complete-game performance from Danielle Pearson in game one before Colleen Hohman hit a pair of home runs to fuel the offense in the nightcap.
Both teams battled winds that gusted to greater than 30 mph for much of the day and dirt that severely reduced visibility around the field.
The rubber match of the series will be played at 1 p.m. (CT) on Sunday.
Game 1: UTEP 7, UTSA 6
Jolene Graham hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the top of the seventh, but UTEP rallied to force extra innings before taking a 7-6 win on Danielle Pearson’s sacrifice fly in the ninth.
The Roadrunners jumped on Pearson, who also started in the circle, for a 3-0 lead after two innings. An error led to UTSA’s run in the first inning, before Madison Kinley hit her fourth home run of the season for a 2-0 advantage in the second. Four batters later, Jori Fox doubled home Megan Low, who reached after being hit by a pitch, to extend the advantage to 3-0.
However, the Miners would touch up Kacy Freeze for a run in the second and third before putting together a three-run fourth for a 5-3 lead.
That’s where the score stood until Vivian Tijerina blasted her eighth home run of the spring with a solo shot in the fifth.
Reliever Nicole Merrill kept UTEP off the scoreboard in the fifth and sixth to hold the deficit at 5-4 heading to the seventh.
Low started the seventh-inning rally with a single before she was replaced by pinch runner Jade Smith. Darian Blake followed with a bunt hit and Fox’s sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third with one out. Pearson then got a ground out that kept both runners in place to set the stage for Graham’s at-bat.
The senior delivered on the first pitch with a double to the wall in right field that scored both Smith and Blake for a 6-5 lead.
But the Miners got three hits in the bottom of the panel, including a two-out single from Pearson that scored the tying run and Graham's diving catch in right with a runner in scoring position sent the game to extra innings.
Neither team could score in the eighth, but UTEP turned a leadoff walk an inning later into the winning run after a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch helped Pearson end the game with a sacrifice fly to right and the 7-6 win.
Pearson (7-12) earned the win after giving up six runs on 14 hits with a walk and two strikeouts in nine innings, while Merrill (7-10) took the loss with two runs on four hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five frames of relief.
Game 2: UTSA 11, UTEP 8
Randee Crawford’s first-inning grand slam helped stake UTSA to an 11-3 lead and the Roadrunners held off a seventh-inning rally to snap a five-game losing streak with an 11-8 win over UTEP in the nightcap.
The freshman’s second grand slam and third home run of the season came in the first inning, while Vivian Tijerina’s second solo homer of the day and ninth of the campaign gave the Roadrunners a 5-0 lead in the third inning.
But pitcher Colleen Hohman tried to keep the Miners in the game with a two-run shot following an error in the bottom of the panel, before adding a solo blast in the fifth.
Before Hohman’s second round-tripper, UTSA got an unearned run in the fourth after another hit by Madison Kinley. An inning later, the Birds got two runs on just one hit as Taylor Oberg walked and Megan Low was hit by a pitch, each with the bases loaded.
Through six innings the Roadrunners led 8-3 and they tacked on what would prove to be much-needed insurance runs in the top of the seventh.
An error, walk and wild pitch put pinch runner Jade Smith and Oberg on second and third with no outs and Buchman’s one-out single to right pushed the lead to 9-3. After the junior stole second, Low plated the pair with a ground-rule double to left for an 11-3 cushion.
But UTEP would not go away and scored five runs, including four with two outs, in the bottom of the panel. With two outs and the tying run on deck, the Roadrunners turned to Chelsea Parker, who got a grounder for the final out and her third save of the season.
Freeze improved to 11-11 after surrendering seven earned runs on nine hits with two walks and three strikeouts, while Hohman dropped to 5-8 with nine earned runs on eight hits, six walks and seven punchouts.