Smith, Belsterling Shine as UCCS Splits with Western New Mexico
COLORADO SPRINGS - Becca Smith pitched 14 outstanding innings and Jessica Belsterling hit two home runs as the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs managed a split of Sunday's doubleheader against the Western New Mexico Mustangs at Mountain Lion Field. UCCS won the first game 1-0 before dropping the second 7-6 in 12 innings.
"That would have to be ASA when I was in seventh grade," said Smith when asked when she had last pitched 14 innings in a day. She also said that her ability to come back in relief in Game 2 was aided greatly by her dominant, three-hit performance in the opener.
"Quick innings are always awesome and then to come in and get a break helps you recover and be able to get back out there," she said.
The Mountain Lions overcame a deficit in Game 2 to give themselves a chance at a sweep. Trailing 6-3, an Amanda Hathaway sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth made it 6-4. In the seventh, Belsterling belted a two-run homer, her second of the game, to tie it.
Belsterling's homer was preceded by a leadoff single by Erin Milburn, building upon one of the more remarkable statistics in recent UCCS memory. Milburn has led off an inning 23 times and has reached base safely on 19 of those occasions - an incredible 82.6 percent success rate.
From there the game became a battle between the same two pitchers - UCCS' Smith and Western New Mexico's Bri Robles - that had pitched complete games in the opener. After giving up a two-run homer in her first inning, the sixth, Smith reeled off five straight scoreless innings. An RBI single by Kale Gahn in the 12th ended the run of zeros.
But Robles proved even more dominant, making the lone run adequate to get the win. She threw five innings of no-hit ball to get the win and improve to 6-9 on the season.
The Mountain Lions left the bases loaded in the sixth and also had chances to win the game in 10th and 11th innings. A walk and a throwing error put runners on first and second with only one out in the 10th. A Marissa Wallace groundout advanced the runners to second and third before an intentional walk to Hathaway loaded the bases. Landry Davis grounded to the pitcher and was thrown out by a half step, sending the game to the 11th inning.
There, Lara Mathewson led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Milburn. An intentional walk to Belsterling, who led UCCS with three hits and five RBIs on the day, put runners at first and second. That chance came to naught as Christina Blanton struck out looking and Jenna Mott grounded out.
"We need some of our experienced players to be experienced players and step up," said UCCS coach Scott Peterson. "We had experienced players have an opportunity to end this thing and they didn't."
Sunday's opener was a classic pitcher's duel between Robles and Smith. Robles held the Mountain Lions to five hits and struck out five over her six innings. But Smith was even better, allowing just three hits and striking out nine. Neither pitcher walked a batter.
"Becca Smith deserves player of the week after what she did today," said Peterson. "She pitched absolutely sensational."
After five scoreless innings, the Mountain Lions finally broke the tie in the sixth. Mathewson got on base with a one-out single and was sacrificed to second by Milburn. Belsterling delivered a clutch RBI single through the right side to score Mathewson.
The stat sheet will show a three-up, three-down top of the seventh, but it was a bit more exciting than that. Center fielder Hathaway delivered the first out with a sliding catch in shallow right center. Landry Davis grabbed the second out by reaching high to snare a Gahn fly ball that otherwise would have left the park. Defensive replacement Melissa DeWitt, who had made two big plays when she entered the game at first base in the top of the sixth, made the game's final out by ranging to her right to grab a grounder and beating Ricki Gentry to the bag.
"It's nice to get a split today, but we had an opportunity to get a split for the weekend," said Peterson, whose team was swept Saturday. "I'd like to feel happy about the first one but I think we left one out there."
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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