The Colorado State Rams took the second game of a three game series against San Diego State 7-4 on Saturday behind a six run third inning and clutch performances on defense.
It started with freshman Corina Gamboa hitting a double that hit off the fence in the bottom of the third inning. Senior Haley Hutton would follow it up with a single to shortstop and junior Hannah McCorkhill would get the rally going with a deep double to the left center gap that would bring home two runs and put the Rams (14-10, 2-3 MW) up 3-1.
Sophomore Amber Nelson would get back on track after she hit a solo home run (9) to right field in the first inning and smacking a single over the shortstop to bring home McCorkhill in the third. Another single by sophomore Lauren Buchanan would force the Aztecs to bring in Erica Romero to pitch. Romero led the NCAA in wins last season.
Sophomore Bridgette Hutton hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score another run and starting pitcher Kaylynn Pierce hit a single to right field that brought home two runs on a bad throw to second base by the Aztecs. After the third inning, the Rams were up 7-1.
After the third inning as the Aztecs bench went relatively quiet, mostly because Pierce and the defense were on fire as well. Head coach Jen Fisher believes it is the result of the team’s “heart-to-heart” talk after the loss on Friday.
“We talked about being dialed in and everybody doing a job,” Fisher said about their conversation post-game Friday. “I think there was some more trust in themselves and each other and just a great team win.”
That trust showed as Buchanan made a diving, snow-cone type catch in the top of the third on a softly hit ball that she had to run up on to catch. Later in the fifth inning, Haley Hutton picked a short hopper off the ground and rocketed a sidearm throw to first to get the runner out.
Pierce pitched well as she gave up only five hits in six plus innings pitched with five walks and zero strikeouts. She continued to get out of jams as the Rams were able to make two double plays on the day. The first one came in the second inning when the batter hit a ball softly back to Pierce who made the catch and threw the runner out at first. The next one came in the fourth when McCorkhill fielded a grounder at first and then threw the runner out at second.
“We just played incredible defense…I liked Kaylynn’s energy on the mound,” Fisher said.
The seventh inning would get troublesome as Pierce gave up two walks, a double and hit by pitch to her first four batters. Junior Larisa Petakoff would come in to close it down as she got the force out at home and then two grounders that scored two runs, but resulted in two more outs.
The Rams will look to take the rubber match against SDSU on Sunday. The Aztecs finished in second place last year in the Mountain West and were picked to be second again this year in the preseason polls.
“We talk about it all the time. If we play our best and the other team comes out ahead, were are not going to be upset,” Fisher said. “The frustrating part is when we are not performing which we felt like we did not do that yesterday so I think we definitely did a better job today.”
Game three is scheduled for 12 p.m. Sunday, but it could be moved to 10 a.m. due to expected weather.
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajwrules44