April 25, 2014

Sagat Hits Grand Slam, Inferno Splits With Champs

AURORA, Ill. -- Alverno College nearly pulled off a sweep of Aurora University, but had to settle for a series split with the defending Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference champion Friday evening. The host Spartans rallied from a five-run deficit to take the opening game 7-6, while the Inferno never trailed in game two for the 12-11 triumph.

In the first game, Kristin Holub put the Inferno on the board with an RBI-double in the third, but the Spartans (23-13, 16-4) responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game.

Ashleigh Sagat hit a grand slam to break the tie and give the Inferno (12-23, 7-13 NACC) a 5-1 lead in the top of the fourth. It was Sagat's third home run of the season and fourth grand slam in the past two seasons.

Alexis Botsford's infield hit in the fifth plated Stephanie Skibba to add to the Inferno's lead, but a sacrifice fly by Aurora in the bottom of the sixth countered.

The Spartans entered their final at bat with a four-run deficit, but quickly scored a pair of runs to begin the inning followed by a three-run walk-off home run by Mandy Shrader with one out. Aurora clinched at least a share of the 2014 NACC regular season title with the win.

Erin Dulek (7-14) had four strikeouts in the loss, while Vanessa Hartzell (11-8) earned the win with five Ks.

In the nightcap, three was a charm for the Inferno as the visitors scored three runs in the first, three in the third, three in the fifth and three in the sixth for the victory. Despite the one-run difference in the final score, Alverno never trailed in the contest.

Holub got the scoring started again after being hit by pitch with the bases loaded. Megan Rossi followed with an RBI-single up the middle, and Sam Kasprzak drew a bases-loaded walk to plate another run.

The Spartans tied the game over the next two innings until the next trio of runs came for Alverno. An error allowed Kasprzak to score, and Emily Orter and Sagat recorded back to back hits to plate two more.

A homer by the Spartans pulled the hosts within one, but another miscue allowed the Inferno to score a pair and another RBI-hit by Sagat scored the third run of the inning.

In the bottom half of the fifth a pair of Inferno errors allowed Aurora to pull within a single run, but Ortner and Holub each singled in a run, and Bre Hart drew a bases-loaded walk for the third run of the inning, which would prove to be the game winner.

Rossi (5-9) went the full seven innings in the circle for the complete-game victory. Just six of the runs allowed by the junior were earned due to five Inferno errors. Natalie Zanella (11-5) was tagged with loss in game two with four innings pitched.

Offensively for the Inferno, Ortner led the way with six hits and a pair of RBIs on the day, while Sagat had four hits, was walked twice and knocked home six runs. Skibba was 4-for-7 at the plate, Botsford was 3-for-7 but reached three more times with a walk and got hit by pitch twice, and Holub added a pair of hits and three RBIs.

Alverno was officially eliminated from NACC tournament contention with the game-one loss, but has a chance to move up in the standings with its final doubleheader tomorrow at Benedictine University. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. in Lisle.

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