Game for the Ages Goes to Aztecs, 1-0 in Extras
May 9, 2014
SAN DIEGO - Boise State embraced the pressure and was up to the challenge of what amounted to a championship game but in the end came up a run short against San Diego State Friday, in a game for the ages. The Broncos fell 1-0 in eight innings against the Aztecs after each starting pitcher took a three-hit shutout into extra innings.
The Broncos (30-21, 14-9 MW) can still earn a share of the Mountain West championship with a win Saturday, but have been eliminated from contention for the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Boise State put the ball in Rebecca Patton's hands and Patton responded with one of the best pitching performances in program history. She went the distance, allowing just four hits and two walks. Patton struck out two and most importantly kept the Aztecs off the scoreboard for seven innings.
San Diego State (38-16, 15-8 MW) eventually won the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. A two-out walk to Katie Mathis brought Patrice Jackson to the plate with the game-winning run at first base. Patton had retired Jackson, the Mountain West leader with 16 home runs, the previous three at bats. The Bronco hurler struck out the Aztec slugger with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Jackson broke through in the eighth. She scorched a double to up the middle and it rolled all the way to wall in left center. Mathis was waved all the way around from first and slid in just ahead of the throw to end the game.
Boise State had its best chances to score in the late innings as well. San Diego State sent its ace, Danielle O'Toole, to the circle as well after O'Toole tossed a two-hit shutout the day before. Mackenzie Whyte's two-out single in the first inning was all the Broncos could muster in the first six innings.
O'Toole retired the next 17 hitters until Whyte came back to the plate with one out in the seventh. She bounced a single up the middle for her second hit of the game and was followed by a single to center by Hailey Torrez to put two on with one out. A ground out advanced the runners, but another ended the inning before a run could score.
Patton worked around a two-out error to match O'Toole's seven shutout innings and force extras with the game still looking for its first run. Patton retired the Aztecs in order four times and faced just one over the minimum through five innings.
Lindsey Nicholson led off the eighth inning with a sharp ground ball through the left side for a single, Boise State's first leadoff base runner of the game. A sacrifice bunt moved Nicholson into scoring position before a shallow fly out turned the lineup over for Tara Glover. The Aztecs opted not to take their chances and intentionally walked Glover for the first time in her career, leaving it up to Jordan Kreiger.
Kreiger worked a 2-1 count before hitting a ground ball toward the shortstop. It was bobbled and Krieger beat the throw to seemingly load the bases. Instead, Nicholson was called out for interfering with the fielder on her way from second to third. The out ended the inning and left Whyte in the on-deck circle.
Boise State's defense was as strong as Patton. Kreiger and Whyte traded off diving and lunging plays in the middle of the infield. Makenna Weir made four assists from third base and Kayla Clausen chipped in with a running catch in foul territory in deep right field.
San Diego State had a runner at third base with two outs in the third inning before Kreiger hustled to a ground ball to her right and threw out the speedy Kayla Jordan at first base. Kreiger ended the fourth inning with a diving stop behind first base, flipping to first to get the out.
When San Diego State loaded the bases in the sixth, Patton's strike out of Jackson was the second out of the frame. Whyte ranged up the middle top stop a ground ball from going to center field, picking it on a short hop and tagging second to end the threat.
Patton has pitched in the last seven games, including complete games each of the last three.
Boise State will play its final game of the regular season Saturday, at 1 p.m. (PT).
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