Blanton's Three-Run Shot, Brilliant Pitching Allows UCCS to Split with Chadron State
CHADRON, Neb. - Christina Blanton's three-run homer gave the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs a 4-2 victory in Saturday's second game and allowed the Mountain Lions to split their doubleheader against the Chadron State Eagles.
UCCS (16-22, 13-16 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) dropped the first game 2-0, stranding 11 baserunners to waste a brilliant pitching performance by Becca Smith.
The Mountain Lions trailed 2-0 going into the sixth inning of Game 2 as Christina Lewis hit a two-run homer with two outs in the fourth. Marissa Wallace led off the the UCCS half of the sixth with a single and advanced to second on a Landry Davis single to left.
Lara Mathewson reached on a fielder's choice that sent Wallace to third and retired Davis at second. Jessica Belsterling followed with a single to score Wallace and make it 2-1. Looking to hold onto the lead, Chadron State coach Rob Stack went to his bullpen, replacing starter Lewis with Aryn Grwusiewicz.
Blanton greeted the change with a three-run shot to center field that gave UCCS a 4-2 lead.
After a three-up, three-down bottom of the sixth, UCCS coach Scott Peterson also went to his bullpen. Smith, who pitched brilliantly in the opener, retired all three batters - striking out two - to get her second save of the season.
Belsterling, the UCCS starter, allowed just five hits and walked none to improve to 9-8. She and Smith combined to strike out 20 Eagles batters without a walk in 14 innings. Smith and Belsterling are ranked first and second in the RMAC in strikeout-to-walk ratio.
In the opener, Chadron State's Kate Pinder outlasted UCCS' Smith. Pinder (8-10) surrendered six hits and four walks in the shutout effort. Smith (7-9) was better on the stat sheet, allowing six hits with no walks and 11 strikeouts.
The Mountain Lions were unable to cash in despite many opportunities. UCCS had nine baserunners in scoring position, including five that reached third, but were unable to score. The team loaded the bases in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings but left those runners stranded.
Chadron State, by contrast, scored two of the four runners it put in scoring position. Amy Schartz led off the second inning with a solo home run. In the sixth, Angela Jay led off with a single, went to third on a single by Katie Bolin and scored on a single by Lewis.
Not coincidentally, those were the only two innings in which the Eagles' leadoff hitter reached base.
These same two teams will meet for another doubleheader at CSC Softball Field on Sunday. UCCS is in ninth place in the RMAC and trails Chadron State by just a half game in the standings. With eight teams qualifying for postseason play, the importance of the doubleheader is obvious.
UCCS Players/Staff Featured
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