Beach Softball Beats No. 22 Notre Dame, Ties With Weber State
Long Beach State won its first game against a ranked opponent in the team's first try.
Long Beach, Calif. - Lauren Lombardi doubled home a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning against No. 22 Notre Dame, capping a pair of one-run comebacks for Long Beach State against the Fighting Irish in a thrilling first game of the day.
Christina Clermont threw another outstanding game for Long Beach State (2-1-1) to improve to 2-0 on the year, pitching all nine innings and allowing five hits while striking out three. Her efforts kept the game in reach while the 49er offense chipped away at Notre Dame (1-1).
It was the Fighting Irish that struck first, as Megan Reed singled and after a sacrifice, scored in a single from Caitlyn Brooks in the fourth inning.
Long Beach State bounced back in the fifth, as Jessica Flores walked to start the inning, and then Rachel Loera reached on an error on her sacrifice bunt, putting two on with no out. After a wild pitch moved the pair over, good fundamental softball worked for the Beach with sacrifice flies from Nichole Fry and LT Torres to give the Beach the lead.
Notre Dame tied the game in the top of the sixth, as Reed delivered again with an RBI triple to even the game at 2-2.
With the tiebreaker rule in effect, both teams threatened but neither team scored in the eighth inning, but Notre Dame once more took the lead in the top of the ninth. After a walk and a sacrifice put Irish runners on second and third, Long Beach State cut down the lead runner at the plate to keep the game tied, but a double by MK Bonamy brought home the go-ahead run.
Sammi Gyerman singled to start the Long Beach State half of the ninth, and Fry was plunked to load the bases with two outs. Notre Dame retired two straight runners at the plate on force out grounders to put the game on the line, but Lombardi delivered with a double to the gap, easily scoring two runs and ending the game 4-3 on a walkoff.
The win was the first against a ranked opponent in 2017 in as many tries for the Beach.
Carrying the momentum from their game one win into the second, Long Beach State quickly jumped out in front of Weber State (0-1-1) in the team's second game of the day. Nichole Fry doubled to start the game for the LBSU offense, and after being pushed to second, scored on an RBI single from Aniesa Maulupe.
The Beach added two more runs in the second inning after a leadoff walk to Kelli Finan and RBI hits from Hannah Cookson and Fry. A solo home run from Julia Lombardi in the fifth inning tacked on one more run for Long Beach State who lead 4-0 after five.
The rain in the area really started to come down at that point, and sophomore Skie Munoz, who had pitched well to that point, looked to visibly tire. The first two batters of the inning each picked up hits, and after an out, a walk to Lauren Likes loaded the bases for Sadie Blacker, who tied the game with a grand slam just out of the reach of Cookson in left field. Long Beach State responded by scoring the bottom of the sixth inning, Lauren MacLeod drew a leadoff walk, and Cookson followed with a clutch triple to give the Beach at 5-4 lead after six innings.
With rain steadily coming down and darkness approaching, relief pitcher Jessica Flores picked up the first out of the inning, but an error put a runner on for Weber State, and the next batter, Rae Gall, made the 49ers pay with a two-run home run to give the Wildcats the lead.
The Beach refused to go away, however, as Maulupe and Lauren Lombardi each singled to start the bottom of the seventh and putting two on with no out for the Beach. A lengthy delay followed as the teams and officials discussed game protocol at that juncture, and after a Julia Lombardi popup, Sammy Gyerman singled but pinch runner Brittany McConnell was thrown out at the plate for the second out.
Finan singled again to give the Beach another chance at a second walk-off win, but while one run came in, Gyerman was called out at the plate, and with darkness setting in and more rain steadily coming, the game was called at that point as a 6-6 tie.
The tie was the first in the 11-year career for Kim Sowder, and the fifth in program history. The last for the program came in 1997.
Long Beach State will play in one more game as part of the Beach Kickoff Classic, hosting San Diego State in the third game of action scheduled tomorrow at the LBSU Softball Complex. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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