Mel Andrea’s grand slam highlighted a five-run sixth inning as Winthrop scored seven runs in the final two innings for a 9-4 victory at Liberty, Saturday afternoon in Big South Conference action.
The victory pushes the Eagles to 24-21 on the year and 12-9 in the Big South while Liberty falls to 7-40 overall and 2-19 in the league.
The grand slam was Andrea’s fourth of the season and ninth home run of the season as she hammered a pitch over the center field fence. The Eagles trailed 4-2 heading into the sixth as Paige Haley led off the inning with a double and then stole third. Haley then scored on a single up the middle by Megan Winningham to cut the deficit to one run before Andrea put Winthrop ahead by three.
“I’m real happy with the win today,” said Winthrop coach Mark Cooke. “We started slow but we had the opportunity to quit down 4-2 but they recovered and responded to get the result we wanted. I thought we played good. Sara was very composed today as she didn’t get frustrated and stayed in the moment. Our focus today was to get the series and our girls responded. This is a good way to head into our last few games of the regular season.”
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Winthrop grabbed the first lead in the top of the fourth courtesy of a two-out single off the bat of Naomi Stevens. Kelsey Ritter doubled to lead off the inning and that was followed by a single from Maddie Antone up the middle. Ritter held up at third on the play and the throw home allowed Antone to move to second. With one out, Sara Allen grounded to short but Antone and the shortstop collided and Ritter was forced to go back to third and Antone was called out. That put runners at the corners with two outs and Stevens came through with her fifth RBI on the weekend.
Liberty tied the game immediately in the bottom half of the fourth as its leadoff batter reached for the fourth straight inning. That was followed by a single up the middle by Hanna Nichols to put runners on first and second and then both were sacrificed over. Blair Lawrence tied it with a single to right field.
The Eagles jumped back into the lead in the top of the fifth inning as McKenzi Corn scored from third base on an error with two outs. Corn led off the inning with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice. Corn moved to third as Ritter hit a grounder in the hole at short that Grace Nordan couldn’t corral after taking a few steps to her right. Ritter took off for second and the throw from home plate came from Kelby Allen and found its way into center field as Ritter threw into second, which allowed Corn to score.
A three-run fifth pushed Liberty in front 4-2 behind an RBI double from Kelby Allen and an RBI single from Katie Han.
Sara Allen pitched a complete game allowing four runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts to improve to 11-9 on the year. She was also 2-for-3 at the plate with a run scored.
Anna Jo Brittingham took the loss for the Flames as she allowed nine runs (six earned) on 12 hits with two walks and four strikeouts as she falls to 3-19.
The grand slam was Andrea’s only hit of the game as Winningham finished with three hits while Antone and Sara Allen each had two.