Broncos Use Homer-Powered Comeback for 4-3 Win
SAN DIEGO-Back-to-back home runs in the top of the sixth inning lifted Boise State to a 4-3 win against San Diego State Saturday, to clinch the series win and set up a chance to earn the Mountain West's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament with a win in Sunday's finale.
Allie Crump's three-run home run tied the game before Holly Bourke put the Broncos (34-16, 8-3 MW) on top. Both blasts came with two away.
Lela Work twirled a gem in the circle for the Broncos, picking up a complete-game win. Work scattered six hits and issued two walks but struck out six, five coming with runners in scoring position.
Boise State's breakthrough inning was set up by the top of the order. Trailing 3-0, Tara Glover led off the sixth with a bunt single. Kellie Caplan duplicated the effort before Christina Capobianco laid down a sacrifice to put a pair of runners in scoring position with one out. Devon Bridges chopped a grounder to third and Glover was cut down at home for the second out, bringing up Crump with runners at the corners.
The senior watched the first two pitches miss before fouling off the first strike against Rebecca Arbino, who was cruising for the Aztecs. Crump pummeled the 2-1 pitch to dead center for her eighth home run of the season to tie the game. Five of her round trippers this season have come in the sixth inning or later.
The Broncos were not done. Bourke turned on a 1-2 pitch and drove it over the right-field fence to give Boise State the lead. It is the fifth time this year the Broncos have hit back-to-back home runs and the second time in conference play a game-tying three-run homer was followed by a go-ahead blast (UNLV, April 15).
Work, typically used as a closer throughout her career, returned to the rubber with a one-run lead and slammed the door in the late innings. She needed just 21 pitches to sit the Aztecs (27-21, 6-2 MW) down in order over the final two frames.
San Diego State put the leadoff batter on base in four of the first five innings, including the first three innings when the Aztecs had a runner in scoring position with nobody out. Work and the Bronco defense held them down in each instance. The junior hurler kept San Diego State batters guessing as she struck out two in the first and one in the second. A lunging play by Glover in shallow center to end the first inning set the tone for a strong fielding game as well.
The Aztecs were able to get on the board first with a two-out RBI in the fourth inning. A one-out double to the wall in center was followed by Work's fourth strikeout, making home batters 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position for the game, and it looked like Boise State would spoil another run-scoring opportunity. Instead, Ashley Rose poked a 1-2 pitch over second base and drove in the game's first run.
The bottom of the fifth inning was a similar story. A leadoff walk, fielder's choice and single put runners at second and third with one away. Work's fifth strikeout got the Broncos one out away from returning to the dugout but Justeen Maeva dumped a two-run single into right and the Aztecs had some breathing room at 3-0.
The Broncos quickly took the air out of the stadium with their comeback in the next inning.
Glover posted another 3-for-4 hitting performance, her fifth game with at least three hits in the last six contests. She now has 84 hits on the year, No. 4 all-time in Mountain West history. Caplan and Crump also delivered multi-hit games as the Broncos outhit San Diego State 9-6. For Crump it is her ninth multi-hit game of the year, but first in conference play.
Arbino took the complete-game loss, allowing four runs on nine hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.
With the series win in hand, Boise State will square off against San Diego State one more time Sunday, with the conference championship in the balance. A win for the Broncos would secure at least a share of the crown and they would hold the advantage in a tiebreak for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. If the Aztecs salvage the final game, they would need to win twice at UNLV May 10-12, to win the conference outright.
Sunday's game is scheduled for 1 p.m. (PT) from SDSU Softball Field.