May 12, 2012
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Sarah Carrasco turned a frustrating season into one to remember with one swing of the bat on Saturday at the 49er Softball Complex.
The 49er sophomore blasted a three-run home run to spark Long Beach State to a 4-2 win over Pacific and in the process help LBSU clinch the Big West Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Carrasco, a second-team All-Big West performer as a freshman, went 2-for-2 with three RBI and two runs scored in the win. The big game finished off a season that saw Carrasco struggle for much of the year after injuring her back in a car accident one week before the season began.
She started the season 2-for-34 in the first 17 games she played, but regained her form over the last six games that she saw action going 5-for-12 with three RBI and four runs scored. In the two wins against Pacific in the final series of the regular season, Carrasco was 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored.
With the win, Long Beach State (28-23, 16-5 Big West) claims its first Big West title since the 2008 season and the second in the Kim Sowder era. The 49ers will also be making their 21st NCAA appearance, including their second straight and the fourth in Sowder's six years at the helm of the program.
The 49ers took a 1-0 lead with a run in the bottom of the third. Carrasco started the rally with a one-out single and moved to second on a bunt single by Shayna Kimbrough. After Cya Neal flew out to left, Hannah De Gaetano singled driving in Carrasco to give the 49ers the lead.
Carrasco gave Long Beach State some cushion in the bottom of the fourth. She blasted a three-run home run to left field with two outs. The homer was just the second of the season at the 49er Softball Complex in 12 games this season. Bree Stephan got the rally going with back-to-back two-out singles to set up Carrasco.
Pacific (33-20, 13-8 Big West) answered with two runs in the top of the sixth to cut the lead in half, but Erin Jones-Wesley didn't let the Tigers get any closer.
Jones-Wesley, the reigning Big West Pitcher of the Year, retired the final four hitters after Pacific scored to wrap up the win. She allowed just four hits, while striking out two in five innings. Jones-Wesley (20-12) got the win in relief of senior Taylor Petty who didn't allow a hit and struck out three in the first two innings.
The NCAA Tournament selection slow will take place at 7 p.m. (PT) on Sunday and be broadcast on ESPNU.
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