BOISE, Idaho-Boise State softball took the third and final game of its conference-opening series against Nevada in thrilling fashion to complete the sweep. The Broncos (18-10, 3-0) defeated the Wolf Pack (9-20, 0-3) 8-3 in the first game Saturday, following it up with an 11-10 walk-off victory in the second game of a rain-soaked doubleheader at Mountain Cove Softball Field.
Sophomore Lela Work earned both wins in the circle, and freshman Devon Bridges was 4-of-5 with three home runs and eight RBI on the day.
Boise State turned to its closer in the first inning and shut down Nevada after a quick start, as the Broncos went on to win 8-3 in the first game of a doubleheader at Mountain Cove Softball Field.
Work relieved starting pitcher Aubray Zell before an out was recorded in the top of the first inning. The Wolf Pack had already built a 2-0 lead to snap Zell's 34-inning scoreless streak and had runners on first and second when Work entered the game. She escaped trouble to get out of the first with the score still 2-0.
The Broncos responded with three home runs in their half of the first inning to take a 4-2 lead. Sophomore Holly Bourke got Boise State on the board first with a solo shot to center field. Bridges hit a two-run homer to right center, and sophomore Vanessa Alvarez immediately followed with a round-tripper of her own to left center.
Work, who is tied for the national lead in saves, tore through the Wolf Pack lineup in the final six innings, racking up 11 strikeouts to pick up her first win of the season. She scattered five hits, allowing just one run in the fifth inning, and did not walk a batter.
After Nevada drew within a run in the top of the fifth, at 4-3, the Broncos responded with four more runs in the bottom of the inning to take a comfortable 8-3 lead. The big hit came in the form of a bases-loaded, pinch-hit double from Christina Capobianco. It was Capobianco's 100th-career hit, making her just the third Boise State player to reach the milestone.
Mallary Darby took the complete-game loss for Nevada.
The Broncos erased a five-run deficit in the fourth inning, only to have Nevada take the lead back with two outs in the seventh. Down to her final strike, Work laced a bases-loaded single into right field, scoring two runs to win the game in walk-off fashion.
Nevada once again jumped out in front early, this time with three runs in the first inning. Again, however, Boise State would respond, tying the game in the bottom of the inning, thanks to familiar faces. After an RBI double from junior Allie Crump, Bridges left the yard again. The shot to right center was her third home run of the series. Bridges would not be finished.
Crump labored through the first three innings, making her first start in the circle in a week. After the three-run first, the Wolf Pack tacked on a run in the second and three more in the third. Crump struck out six in her three innings of work, but allowed seven hits and two walks. She left with the Broncos trailing 7-3.
Work came on in relief for the third time in the series, making her fourth appearance in as many games. The Wolf Pack pushed one across against her in the fourth inning to take an 8-3 lead, but the Bronco bats got hot again.
With two outs and runners on second and third in the bottom of the fourth inning, Bourke shot a double down the left field line, scoring two. Then things started to unravel for Darby in her 14th inning of work during the series. Her second walk and second hit batter of the inning loaded the bases for Bridges. The freshman's dominance of Darby continued as she drove the first pitch she saw to dead center for her second home run of the game, and second grand slam of the season. Bridges' blast gave the Broncos a 9-8 lead and gave her a school-record six RBI in the game.
The momentum carried over to defense for Boise State. Work retired the Wolf Pack in order in the fifth and sixth innings.
The Broncos had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, but three hits and a walk amounted to no insurance runs after a caught stealing.
The 9-8 lead looked like it would hold up as Work retired the first two batters of the seventh, but Nevada's Megan Fincher drew a hard-fought walk to give the Wolf Pack a pulse. Chelsea Venable quickly roared the visitors back to life with a deep home run on the first pitch she saw to put Nevada back on top 10-9. Work struck out the next batter to get to the bottom of the inning trailing by just one.
Walks by junior Tazz Weatherly and freshman Mackenzie Whyte turned the order back over. Junior Kellie Caplan laid down a sacrifice bunt to put the winning run in scoring position. Bourke walked to load the bases with one out. Capobianco lifted a fly ball to left field, but it stayed elevated just long enough for Jayme King to set her feet and keep Weatherly at third base. With two down, the bases loaded and the Broncos still trailing by a run, Work stepped into the batter's box. She quickly fell into a 0-2 hole but stayed with a pitch on the outside corner and drove it through the right side of the infield. Weatherly scored easily to tie the game and Whyte dashed around from second, avoiding the tag at the plate with a head-first slide to score the winning run.
The Broncos look to carry the momentum of a conference series sweep into a busy week. Boise State will play seven games in the next week, beginning Tuesday, against Utah Valley in Provo, Utah. The team also has a doubleheader scheduled against Utah, Wednesday, before resuming conference action Friday and Saturday, at San Jose State. The week will wrap up with a single game Sunday, at Saint Mary's.Notes
Boise State has swept its conference-opening series all three seasons...Aubray Zell gave up her first home run of the season in the first inning of game one, making her the last pitcher in the WAC with at least one inning pitched per team game played to surrender a long ball...Devon Bridges ranks No. 5 on the single-season RBI list with 30...Bridges is the only Bronco with multiple grand slams in her career...Bridges becomes the third Bronco to hit home runs in three-straight games...The Broncos' 11 hits in game two give them 10 games with 10+ hits this season.