Good Pitching Performances Go to Waste as Balogh, Orediggers Sweep UCCS

By Doug Fitzgerald published March 17, 2010


COLORADO SPRINGS - A team starved for good pitching performances wasted two on Wednesday.

University of Colorado at Colorado Springs pitchers Jenna Mott and Stacy Ortiz were good, but Libby Balogh and the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers were better as they swept the Mountain Lions 5-0, 5-0 at Mountain Lion Field.

For the first two times this season, UCCS pitchers held an opponent to two runs or less through six innings (the Mountain Lions did hold Oklahoma Panhandle State to two runs on March 2 but that game did not get into the sixth inning because of the eight-run rule). Through six innings of Wednesday's opener, Mott had held Mines to two runs on six hits. Ortiz went one better, allowing just one run on two hits through the sixth frame.

"I think those are the best (pitching) performances we've had all season," said UCCS pitching coach Don Pettrow. "For six innings in both games we were very good."

Those were encouraging performances from a team that came into the games sporting a bloated 8.90 ERA and allowing opponents to hit at a ridiculous .401 clip.

What was not encouraging was the normally potent UCCS offense. The Mountain Lions, who entered the games with a .385 on base percentage and a .468 slugging percentage, managed just four hits and no walks in the opener and one hit and three walks in the nightcap.

"I didn't think (hitting) would be our issue," said UCCS head coach Scott Peterson. "Two years ago, there were 21 home runs hit out here between these two teams. Today, we have five hits in 14 innings."

The single hit in Game 2 came with two outs in the seventh inning. UCCS pinch hitter Melissa DeWitt drilled a two-strike line drive up the middle that Balogh stretched for and nearly caught. The ball tipped off top of her glove, though, ending her no-hit bid.

Balogh was masterful. She identified each umpire's strike zone and lived on the outer edges, using impeccable location and effective changes of speed to frustrate the Mountain Lion hitters. The sophomore from Morrison pitched all 14 innings, striking out 18.

"She kept our batters off-balance," said Pettrow. "She was great. She had a lot of strikeouts and our kids just couldn't match up with her."

Sarah Van Lingen and Alyson Beck each had three hits in the opener for Mines (9-10, 5-5 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference). Having scored twice through six innings, the Orediggers got three more in the seventh thanks largely to a Keystyone Kops-like, three-error UCCS defensive frame.

Beck added two more hits in Game 2, including her second home run of the game. Molly Thiebaut's homer in the second provided Mines only run until the seventh, when Beck and Sarah Lustgraaf both went deep to key a four-run inning.

"I think (Mott and Ortiz) just let up a little bit, trying to work too tight and trying to make a good pitch," said Pettrow about the seventh innings. "It's hard when we're not hitting the ball. They did a good job but we didn't back them up with our offense."

For Peterson, who saw his team drop to 4-15, 1-9 in the RMAC, it's been a difficult season. UCCS is off to its worst start since 2001, when Peterson's inaugural Mountain Lion team began the season 1-24. The 2010 squad is infinitely more talented, which only serves to magnify the frustration.

"We're either hitting or we're pitching, but never both in the same game," he said. "We've got to keep clawing. There's nothing else to do."

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