Tech plates three in the fifth to edge Eastern Kentucky in thrilling series finale
By Dylan Vazzano, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech softball team put together a sterling late-inning comeback to upend Eastern Kentucky, 3-2, in the finale of a three-game set at Tech Softball Field. With the win, the Golden Eagles (20-33, 12-12) capture the series with the Colonels (27-19, 14-8), while winning their eighth out of the last 10 to keep pace in the Ohio Valley Conference playoff picture.
Tech trailed 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth, mustering just one hit over the first four frames off EKU starting pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger (19-9), who entered the game with a miniscule 1.15 era after blanking the Golden Eagles with a complete game, three-hit shutout in the series opener.
Sophomore Cortney Fry, who was responsible for the lone hit with a two-out double in the bottom of the second, led off the fifth with a walk to begin TTU's comeback bid. Fry would be lifted for red-shirt junior Christian Gibbs, who promptly stole second, before advancing to third on a one-out single by senior Kayla Floyd.
After a Floyd stolen base put runners on second and third with still just one down, junior Angi Sakamoto brought TTU within a run thanks to a single to center that plated Gibbs with the first Golden Eagle run of the game.
Pittsenbarger nearly escaped further trouble after striking out sophomore Madison Taylor for the second out of the inning, but a Hannah Eldridge two-out, two-strike double to left center scored both Floyd and Sakamoto to give Tech a 3-2 edge, a lead the Golden Eagles would not relinquish.
Freshman Danielle Liberatore (12-10) won her seventh consecutive OVC game, tossing a complete game, six-hitter, allowing only two walks and striking out seven for her 12th victory of the season. Liberatore wiggled out of a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the sixth, striking out senior Nicole Heitz to end the EKU scoring threat. Liberatore then tossed a 1-2-3 seventh to seal the Golden Eagle win.
Pittsenbarger was handed the loss, also going the distance, giving up three runs on five hits.
The Colonels jumped on the board in the top of the third, breaking a scoreless tie with a two-run home run by freshman Krislyn Campos.
TTU will play its final series of the regular season next weekend, welcoming in Morehead State for a doubleheader on Saturday, May 3 and a single game on Sunday, May 4.