UCSD, now 31-22 overall, will face fourth-seed Cal State Dominguez Hills in an elimination game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Sonoma State (36-17) will face the regular season champions, Humboldt State, at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We left a lot of runners in scoring position and just couldn’t capitalize when we had opportunities," said UCSD head coach Patti Gerckens. "Lipperd is a good pitcher, but she struggled at times and we didn’t take advantage.”
Down 3-0 after four full innings of play, UCSD plated a run in each of the fifth and sixth frames to get back within one. However, SSU gained breathing room by scoring a pair of two-out runs in the top of the seventh.
Jennifer Manuel (11-3) earned the start on the mound for UCSD, suffering the loss after surrendering three runs on five hits over four innings. Alexis Edwards tossed the final three innings, giving up two runs on five hits.
SSU totaled 10 hits in the game. Ali Palermo was a force, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two doubles while driving in all five of her team's runs. Samantha Beauchamp was 3-for-3, while Danielle D'Eccliss had two hits.
Samantha Lipperd, the CCAA's Most Valuable Pitcher, improved to 22-9 following her complete game effort. She struck out one and walked three.
The Seawolves did all the damage they needed to in the fourth. Following a single and a walk to start the inning, Palermo came to the plate and homered to left field, putting them up 3-0.
UCSD got on the board in the fifth. Mya Romero and Nicole Spangler drew back-to-back walks and advanced on a successful sacrifice bunt by Emily McQuaid. Following a pop-up for the second out, Clewett singled to left, allowing Romero to score. A walk to Taylor Sepulveda loaded the bases, but the Tritons were not able to push any more runs across.
In the sixth, Willmon led off with a bunt single. Brown followed and reached base on an infield error. Both runners moved up on a Romero sac bunt and Willmon scored on a ground out by Spangler. Trailing by a run at 3-2, Brown was left stranded at third when pinch hitter Alissa Gutierrez lined a shot to center that was caught on a dive by Megan Konieczka.
“The pitch was low and away, one of the places I like, and I thought it was a hit when it left the bat," said Gutierrez. "She (Konieczka) had it played perfectly though and made a nice diving catch. It’s the best I’ve hit the ball in quite a while.”
The Seawolves sealed the win in the seventh. Three of the first four batters singled to load the bases. With two down, Palermo drove in two runs with a double to right. A potential third run was gunned downed at the plate on the play.
“Dominguez Hills is another great team and we split the season series with them," said Gerckens. "We’ve got to come out swinging. Are they beatable? Yes, but we have to score more than we did tonight if we expect a different result.”
To access the complete tournament schedule with links to results and live stats, click here.
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