Simpson's ninth-inning hit, Knussman's grand slam leads softball to sweep of Lynchburg

Simpson's ninth-inning hit, Knussman's grand slam leads softball to sweep of Lynchburg

SALISBURY, Md. – The No. 11 Salisbury University softball team earned a pair of dramatic wins, needing late runs in both games, against Lynchburg College on Sunday at the SU Softball Field.

Salisbury 12, Lynchburg 11 (9 inn.)

In a slugfest that lasted nearly three hours, the Sea Gulls battled back and claimed a thrilling victory in the opener.

The Hornets jumped out to a 5-3 lead, scoring the runs in the first two innings, while single runs in the first three innings had the Gulls within two.

Three more for Lynchburg in the top of the fourth, including a two-run home run from Kayla St. John, opened things up a bit for the Hornets, but late-inning heroics allowed the Gulls to draw even.

The Sea Gulls strung together hits in the final three innings, to give them a chance to win. Annah Brittingham opened the bottom of the fifth with a double and two runners were on after Katie Sebbane came up with the base hit.

Annie Pietanza and Megan Buonpane each had run-scoring hits, with Buonpane driving a double to the gap in left field. Sophomore LeAnne Collins sent home the final run of the inning, cutting the lead to 8-6, but the Hornets were good for three more runs in the sixth – their final runs of the game.

Salisbury loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, and Kim Dorsey drew a run-scoring walk before an RBI groundout from Pietanza and single from Buopane got the three runs back, and the top of the order tied the game in the seventh.

Collins opened the inning with a single and Simpson drilled a double to center field, making it a one-run game, 11-10. Knussman singled to advance Simpson to third and Dorsey drove a ball through the left side to the tie the game.

The teams each missed out on their chance with the runner on in the eighth inning thanks to the international tie-breaker, and Salisbury pitcher Brooke Mizelle, who came on in relief in the seventh inning, got a strikeout and a pair of flyouts to end the top of the ninth inning.

Mizelle started the bottom of the ninth on second, and moved to third on Collins' sacrifice bunt. It took just four more pitches for Simpson to bring the game to an end, turning on a 2-and-1 offering that skipped over the third-base bag and into left field, scoring Mizelle for the game-winning run.

It capped a 4-for-5 game for Simpson, who scored twice and drove in three with a pair of doubles in the game.

Simpson was one of seven Sea Gulls with at least two hits in the game as Salisbury pounded out a season-high 17 hits in the game; Knussman had three hits, including two doubles.

Mizelle did not allow a hit in her three innings, picking up the win.

Salisbury 4, Lynchburg 2

The bats for both teams went quiet in the second game, with just 11 total hits, as Salisbury came from behind again for the win.

The Sea Gulls had one base runner in each of the first three innings, with a one-out single from Pietanza and two-out hits from Knussman and Simpson, but each of the runners was stranded on base.

Mizelle, who got the start in the second game, held the Hornets early, retiring the first seven Lynchburg batters she faced, but a pair of hits in the top of the fourth inning led to a pair of runs and a 2-0 lead.

Salisbury did not get a runner on in the fourth, but made up for it in the fifth against Lynchburg starting pitcher Kirsten Copley. With one out, Sebbane singled up the middle and Buonpane walked before the second out of the inning. Simpson was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Knussman stepped to the plate.

The senior worked the count full and fouled off one two-strike pitch before drilling a line-shot grand slam to left-center field. The blast was her sixth of the season and Salisbury's third grand slam in the past three days.

The Hornets got a base runner with a leadoff single in the top of the seventh, and the potential tying run reached base with two outs in the inning on a Lauren Smith single, putting runners at the corners. But Mizelle finished off the complete-game victory by getting a ground out to seal Salisbury's 10th-straight win.

In the two games, Mizelle pitched 10 innings, allowing eight hits and just one walk, while striking out nine.

The Sea Gulls will be off through the week before returning to the SU Softball Field on Saturday, March 19 hosting Houghton College for a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m.

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