Broncos Split Nip-and-Tuck Double Dip at Utah
SALT LAKE CITY-Boise State softball continues to play down-to-the-wire games, splitting a pair of games decided in the late innings Wednesday, against Utah in Salt Lake City. The Broncos (19-12) won game one, 9-8, on a seventh-inning home run from Tazz Weatherly. The Utes (16-16) took the second game, 2-1, with a pair of runs in their last at-bat amid controversy.
In a game with three lead changes, Boise State provided the decisive blow. Weatherly belted her second home run of the season in the top of the seventh inning to break an 8-8 tie.
The game arrived at the late deadlock just when it appeared Boise State seized control. The Broncos took an 8-6 lead in the top of the sixth inning thanks in part to two Utah errors. The lead was not safe as Whitney Holm hit her second home run of the day, a two-run shot to tie the game.
Lela Work, who entered the game in the second inning, shut down the Utes in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the win and move to 3-4 on the season. Work has been the pitcher of record in the last four games.
The Utes staked an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning off Broncos starter Aubray Zell. The Broncos came right back in the second, starting with a home run from Allie Crump to lead off the frame. Mackenzie Whyte drove in two more runs in the inning with a two-out single to put Boise State on top 3-2.
Zell ran into more trouble in the bottom of the second inning. Five-straight hits including Holm's first home run of the day, chased Zell from the circle before recording an out in the inning. Work came on and got out of the inning without surrendering another run. Catcher Megan Harvey did her part to hold the Utah offense at bay, throwing out two would-be base stealers in the frame.
Work and the Broncos held Utah scoreless for the next three innings while creeping back into the game. Boise State started the fourth inning with singles from Kelly Sweeney and Weatherly. Harvey moved them over with a sacrifice and Whyte drove Sweeney in with a single up the middle. Weatherly would also come in to score on a sacrifice fly by Holly Bourke to make the score 6-5.
Whyte had arguably the best game of her young career. The freshman stroked a career-best three hits, and tied career high with three RBI. Whyte also scored once and stole a base.
Weatherly recorded her first multi-hit game since March 6, breaking out of a 4-for-33 slump during that span.
Devon Bridges saw her five-game hit and RBI streaks come to an end as Utah pitched around the freshman slugger. Bridges drew two walks and came around to score once.
The pivotal inning started with a leadoff walk to Brooke Olson and a sacrifice bunt to put the tying run in scoring position with one out for the Utes. The next batter grounded a ball to third where Sweeney pumped to first and got Olson leaning off of second base. Olson was caught in a run down between second and third but was bailed out when two umpires made different calls on the play, resulting in a dead ball. Olson was awarded third base and the batter, Kelsi Hoopiiaina took second during the run down as the go-ahead run was also in scoring position.
Bronco starter Allie Crump settled in to strike out the next batter but fell behind Sandi Bowles, 2-0 and Bowles drove the next pitch for a two-run double into the left-center field gap to give Utah the lead.
The Broncos scored their run after Capobianco started the inning with a double down the right field line. After a groundout moved the runner up a base, Bridges drew her third walk of the day to put runners on first and third. Vanessa Alvarez stepped up and shot a single into right field for the first run of the game. The runners advanced to second and third with two outs, but a groundout ended the threat.
The game ended as the Broncos were retired in order in the seventh inning. Crump took the complete-game loss to fall to 9-5 on the year.
Boise State will have a day off before starting its second Western Athletic Conference series of the year at San Jose State beginning Friday, followed by a doubleheader Saturday. The Broncos will finish their spring break trip with a single game, Sunday, at Saint Mary's.
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