Lopers Take Two Out of Three
KEARNY, Neb. - Sarah Cleland hit three home runs, including her school-record fourth career grand slam, and Stacy Haney broke the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs single-season RBI record but the Mountain Lions nonetheless had to settle for just a single win in Saturday's tripleheader against the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers at Dryden Park.
Sandwiched around UCCS' 15-6 win in Game 2 were 5-4 and 9-3 losses, dropping the Mountain Lions to 29-11 on the season and 19-8 in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Haney had five RBIs on the day to give her 71 for the season. The junior from Littleton had a two-run double and a sacrifice fly in Game 2 and a pair of solo home runs in Game 3 to pass the previous RBI record of 70 set by Crystal Krebs in 2005.
Those looking for excuses could point to the bitter cold conditions with the wind chill factor dipping into the teens. The Mountain Lions also played lethargically after spending Friday cooped up in the team hotel because the day's games were postponed. The fact was that the freshman-laden UCCS team was simply outplayed by a veteran Lopers squad that adapted better to the difficult conditions. UCCS has also shown a penchant for struggling away from home, with Saturday's games dropping its road record to 8-7.
The Mountain Lions had 16 hits in the second game, including two doubles and four home runs, one of which was Cleland's grand slam. The result of the hit-fest was a 15-6 win.
The greatest damage was done in the second inning, during which 11 Mountain Lions batted and eight scored. Sarah Brisky had a double and a two-run home run in the inning, Stacy Haney added a two-run double and Cleland blasted her bases-loaded homer over the right field fence.
Rachel Hancock and Lindsay Shandera also homered in Game 2 as the Mountain Lions scored in every inning but the fourth.
Stacy Otiz (14-6) allowed 11 hits but held on for the win.
A defensive meltdown in the sixth inning cost the Mountain Lions the opener. The inning started with a pitcher's worst enemy, a leadoff walk, and deteriorated from there. Katie Pfannenstiel laid down what should have been a sacrifice bunt, but third baseman Katie Johnson's throw went over the head of first baseman Shandera. As Pfannenstiel headed to second, shortstop Cleland bobbled the throw, allowing Allison Sinnett, who drew the walk to start the whole mess, to score from third and tie the game at five.
Were that the end of it, perhaps the inning would have been but a glitch. Unfortunately, UCCS was in meltdown mode. Pfannenstiel went to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored when second baseman Hancock couldn't handle a soft grounder that should have been the third out. The inning summary: no hits, three errors, two runs and a 5-4 loss.
Wasted was a gutsy pitching effort by Libby White (15-4), who struck out a career-high eight. It was the second straight game that the freshman from Niwot had set a new career high in strikeouts.
Game 3 was never close as seven hits, three walks and three UCCS errors spotted Nebraska-Kearney a 9-1 lead. With RMAC ERA leader Amada Bell pitching, the Mountain Lions were unable to make the comeback. Bell (12-3) earned both wins for the Lopers.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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