Broncos Take Opener 3-2 in 10 Innings
March 21, 2014
BOISE, Idaho - Mackenzie Whyte raced home on a squeeze bunt with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Boise State to a 3-2 victory Friday, against Fresno State in the Mountain West opener for both teams. Rebecca Patton pitched all 10 innings for the Broncos (16-12, 1-0 MW) to earn her 14th win of the season.
Whyte led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a walk, followed by a single from Ashley Palmer. Hailey Torrez dropped a bunt single to load the bases with still nobody out and brought Weir to the plate. With two sacrifices in the game already, Weir squared to bunt on the first pitch and fouled it off. She did not show on the next pitch and it missed the zone. Head coach Erin Thorpe again put on the squeeze for the 1-1 pitch and Weir delivered. As the bunt trickled toward the pitcher, Whyte barreled down the line, put her head down and went into an all-out, face-first slide to get to the plate. Her hand beat the throw to the plate- which was bobbled anyway- setting off a Bronco celebration. It was Boise State's first extra-inning game of the season.
Whyte, Palmer, Torrez and Sarah Barnes all enjoyed multi-hit games. Torrez was 3-for-3 in the game with a walk and a sacrifice. Whyte and Palmer each drove in runs, including Palmer's fourth home run of the season.
Despite ending with an exciting offensive play, this game belonged to the pitching and defense. Patton and her Fresno State counterpart Jill Compton were strong in the circle and thwarted threat after threat. Compton also threw a complete game, pitching into the 10th inning. She allowed three runs on 11 hits and four walks while striking out five.
The Broncos had a runner in scoring position each of the first eight innings, but could only cash in on one of those opportunities.
Boise State's first run came with the bases empty. Palmer led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a home run to right center. It answered a solo home run from Fresno State's Michelle Solomon in the top of the inning and brought the Broncos back within one at 2-1. The Broncos threatened to tie the game in the same inning, but had a runner thrown out at the plate for the second out.
The Broncos did tie it in the fifth. Lindsey Nicholson walked to start the inning and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Whyte came to the plate and battled back from a 1-2 count to run it full. She drove the 3-2 pitch off the wall down the left field line for an RBI double, knotting the score 2-2.
It appeared Boise State had taken a lead in the sixth inning. With runners at second and third and only one out, Rose Saenz sent a fly ball to center. Torrez tagged to score from third, but Barnes was thrown out advancing from second to third, ending the inning before the lead runner could cross home.
Patton scattered nine hits and one walk over her 10 innings of work allowing the two runs, only one of which was earned. She also did plenty of work defensively in the circle to help herself. Patton recorded a career-high seven assists. With the bases loaded in the seventh inning, Patton fielded a comebacker for the final out of the inning to escape a jam.
In the eighth, she made every play. After her own throwing error put the leadoff runner aboard, Patton also fielded the next three batted balls. She wheeled around to second base on the first to get the lead runner. After a steal and a wild pitch put a runner at third, Patton stabbed a one-hopper to her right and caught the lead runner between third and home for the second out. The next Bulldog sent another chopper up the middle but Patton snagged it and got the out at first.
The Broncos had their chances too, including a leadoff base runner in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Finally the offense got the big hit in the 10th.
Fresno State (15-11, 0-1 MW) scored an unearned run in the second inning to start the scoring. The Bulldogs added a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning to take a 2-0 lead.
Patton has now pitched at least 10 innings twice in her Boise State career (10.1 innings March 2, 2013, against UCLA). She is the only Bronco to go longer than nine innings in a game.
Of the 17 all-time meetings between Boise State and Fresno State, 10 have been decided by one run.
The storied series continues the rest of the weekend. First pitch Saturday is at 3 p.m. (MT) and Sunday's finale begins at 1 p.m. (MT).
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