EWING, N.J. – The Salisbury University softball team played the waiting game for the start of its second game in the NCAA tournament on Saturday, seeing the first pitch pushed back by three hours, but the delay didn't hold the momentum back for the Sea Gulls, who picked up a 7-6 win, holding off Johnson & Wales (R.I.) University to advance to the regional championship game.
Salisbury (30-13) started the scoring in the top of the first inning, getting a pair of runs on two hits. After walks by LeAnne Collins and Dakotah Fraley to begin the inning, Annie Pietanza kept up her strong regional, driving home Collins with a single, and with two outs Emily Allen had another base hit to drive home Fraley for the 2-0 lead.
An Amelia Trotter home run to start the second inning pushed the lead to 3-0 before the Wildcats (32-12) answered with a pair in the bottom of the third off Salisbury starter Rachael Milligan, off just one hit while taking advantage of a Salisbury fielding error.
Johnson & Wales tied the game in the fifth, but the game remained even only until the sixth when Salisbury belted a pair of two-run home runs with two outs. Fraley got the first one to right-center field, scoring Cat Ramagnano in front of her, while Madeira Alexander connected on another after Pietanza singled.
The Wildcats answered with three runs off three hits in the bottom of the inning, cutting the Salisbury lead to one run, 7-6, but Milligan and the Sea Gulls stood their ground in the seventh, giving up a pair of singles, but with one out a live drive to Sami Mumford in left turned into a game-ending double play as she fired to second for the final out of the game.
Pietanza, Allen, and Ramagnano each had two hits to lead the offensive effort while Milligan worked 6 2/3 innings, striking out five.
With the victory, Salisbury moves into the championship game on Sunday, which is now scheduled to begin at noon. The Sea Gulls will take on the winner from Sunday's first game between Johnson & Wales and No. 8 Moravian College. With a win in the contest, Salisbury will advance to next week's NCAA super regional. With a loss, the teams would meet again on Monday in a winner-take-all contest.