PHOENIX (March 31) – On the first day of Western Athletic Conference (WAC) play, Seattle University softball outlasted Grand Canyon, sweeping the Lopes Friday night. The Redhawks won, 7-3, in the longest game in program history after taking the opener, 8-2, at GCU Softball Stadium.
“Believing is the one thing we lacked all season,” said Coach Geoff Hirai. “This team is starting to believe and when you put fight with belief, you get great results. I love coaching this team. The players deserve all the credit for these wins.”
After rolling to victory in the first game, the Redhawks (13-21, 2-0 WAC) ended up locked in a marathon outing in the nightcap.
Alyssa Reuble and Mariah Valencia squared off in a fantastic, and lengthy, pitcher’s dual. The starters for both sides kept the contest scoreless through three innings, but little did they realize it was merely the start of the night’s work.
The contest was tied at one through six innings, and after both teams scored a single run in the seventh, the game headed for the record books. Reuble and Valencia were brilliant, keeping the game tied, as neither offense could get a runner past second base until the bottom of the 11th frame. The Lopes put together a single and two groundouts, but Reuble induced a flyout to end the threat and push the game into the 12th inning.
Sara Dominguez singled up the middle to start a Redhawk rally. Alyson Matriotti then singled. A Nicole Bolasky sacrifice bunt moved the runners over. Paige Bouska hit a chopper that Valencia held on to, loading the bases. Kaylee Ree was then hit by a pitch, allowing Dominguez to score the go-ahead run. Madison Cathcart broke the game open with a double to left center, plating three runs. Maddy Kristjanson singled and then Savannah Loomis hit into a double play, but Cathcart hustled home to score and give Seattle U a 7-2 margin.
The hosts refused to quit, though, as GCU (25-13, 0-2 WAC) homered to lead off the bottom of the 12th. After a groundout and a walk, the lights went out at the stadium. After a 20-minute delay, the lights came back on and the game resumed. Reuble got an out on a fielder’s choice, and after a base hit, the Redhawks were one out away from victory. On a 1-2 count, Reuble wound up and fired a strike, recording her first K of the night on her 157th pitch of the night. The win gave Seattle U its first-ever 2-0 start in the WAC.
Reuble went all 12 innings, allowing 12 hits and 3 runs. Ree, Loomis, and Dominguez each had two hits. Valencia went 11.1 innings for GCU, throwing 179 pitches in a loss.
Way back in the top of the fourth, the Redhawks struck for the game’s first run. Ree hit a one-out double and Cathcart drew a walk. Kristjanson was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Loomis. She stung an RBI single to left to put SU ahead, 1-0.
The Lopes used three singles to tie the game in the bottom of the frame. Reuble came back with a 1-2-3 fifth and then worked around a single in the sixth, sending the game into the seventh frame tied at 1.
Dominguez led off with a single in the seventh, and after two groundballs moved her to third, Bouska drilled a single to left to score Dominguez. GCU rallied with a pair of doubles in its half of the frame, forcing extra innings.
The game is the longest in SU’s 17-year history. The Redhawks had played 11 10-inning contests previously, but never beyond that. It is tied for the sixth-longest game in Division I this season.
In the first game, SU scored five runs in the second inning and never looked back on its way to a win in the conference opener. Cathcart lined a 3-2 pitch down the right-field line for a home run. Kristjanson was hit by a pitch and Loomis doubled. Dominguez’s groundball ended up plating Kristjanson for a 2-0 lead. Kayla Gonzales followed with a full-count single to score Loomis. With two outs, Bouska was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ree was also hit by a pitch, as Dominguez scored. With Cathcart back at the plate, Matriotti came in on a wild pitch, giving the Redhawks a 5-0 advantage.
Grand Canyon answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the second, but Andie Larkins kept the Lopes off balance the rest of the way. The SU hurler retired 11 of 12 batters midway through the game, trusting her defense to make plays in the field.
A Susanne Morris pinch-hit double drove in Erika Rodgers in the fifth, as the Redhawks grabbed a 6-2 lead. Seattle U put the game away with two more runs in the seventh frame. With one out, Cherise Silvan hit an infield single. Dominguez singled and then Matriotti reached on a fielder’s choice, putting runners at first and third with two down. Matriotti stole second and Bolasky came through with a single to center, driving in two runs to stretch the SU margin.
In the GCU seventh, Erika Rodgers made a long sprint to run down a flyball down the left-field line for the first out. After a base hit, Larkins closed out the contest with a groundball and a deep flyout.
Larkins threw a complete game. She gave up just four hits and two runs for her sixth win of 2017. Bouska went 3-4 with a hit by a pitch. Cathcart had two hits, including her second home run of the season.
The teams finish their three-game series tomorrow. First pitch is set for 5 p.m.