Milburn's Walk-Off Homer Salvages Split, Clinches Steel & Silver Series
COLORADO SPRINGS - Erin Milburn's walk-off home run gave the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs a 3-2 win in Friday's opener and allowed the Mountain Lions to split the day's doubleheader against the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves at Mountain Lion Field.
CSU-Pueblo (15-16, 14-12 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) scored all of its runs in the top of the seventh in winning the nightcap 5-2.
With its win, UCCS clinched the 2010-11 Steel & Silver Series against CSU-Pueblo and will retain possession of the Ent Federal Credit Union Trophy. The Mountain Lions came into the doubleheader leading 22-10 with four points on the line and 23 needed to clinch. The split awarded two points to each school, lifting UCCS above the clinch threshold.
The Steel & Silver Series in an annual rivalry competition between the schools. Each sport in which both schools compete is worth four points on a "winner-take-all" format. The school that wins the most head-to-head games in a sport takes the four points for that sport unless the schools split an even number of games like Friday's doubleheader split. In that case, each school gets two points.
UCCS took four points each for women's soccer, women's volleyball, women's cross country and men's golf. CSU-Pueblo took the four points for men's soccer. The schools split points in women's basketball, men's basketball, women's indoor track and, now, women's softball.
The Mountain Lions came within an out of sweeping Friday's doubleheader. UCCS pitcher Jessica Belsterling (7-8) had been dominant, retiring 14 straight batters at one point.
But Olivia Fimbres opened the top of the seventh with a solo home run, which was followed by consecutive singles by Lindsey Marmolejo and McKenzie Joseph. After Belsterling struck out the next two batters, UCCS stood within an out of a sweep. Shortstop Marissa Wallace kept that hope alive with a diving stop of a bouncer by Aimee Spathias. Wallace had no play to make the third out, but did prevent Marmolejo from scoring.
"That last inning she stiffened up in her arm a little bit and they got a little bit ahead of her," said UCCS assistant coach Don Pettrow about Belsterling. "Jess did a really great job. She was throwing a one-hitter through five and had a two-hitter through six."
The play was rendered moot as Carlie Lucas hit a dribbler through the right side that scored two. Sarah Bosshart followed with a bouncer up the middle to bring home two more.
UCCS (13-21, 10-15 RMAC) couldn't do any damage in the bottom of the seventh off CSU-Pueblo starter Marissa Reyes (7-4).
Belsterling scored both UCCS runs in the nightcap. The first was on a solo homer in the fourth and the second came when she walked, was sacrificed to second and scored on a double by Milburn.
Milburn's one-out blast in the final inning of the opener made a winner of UCCS starter Becca Smith (6-8), who scattered six hits and walked none while striking out seven.
"Erin really stepped up," said Pettrow. "She's been swinging the bat great the last couple of games; getting a lot of base hits, a lot of foul balls (and) hard swings."
The Thunderwolves took the lead in the first on a Marissa Reyes RBI single that scored Samantha Rios. UCCS answered in the third as Amanda Hathaway led off with a single, went to second Wallace's single and to third on a sacrifice bunt by Landry Davis. Lara Mathewson followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game.
The Thunderwolves made the tie short-lived, adding a run in the top of the fourth with Joseph delivering an RBI single. Caitlin Connelly tied it for UCCS in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer.
The score remained tied at two until Milburn's game-winner off of Shannon Traxinger (7-8).
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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