Winning Run Scores on a Walk; Mocs Win Regional Opener 1-0
TAMPA – For Randi Grimes, it may have been the easiest RBI of her life. For Christine Clark, Florida Southern’s first game in the NCAA South Region Tournament was anything but easy. Going against Barry pitcher Brianna Smith never is. While Clark and Smith battled in the circle, Grimes forced in the only run of the game with a bases-loaded walk, giving the Moccasins a 1-0 win over their Sunshine State Conference rivals.
Clark and Smith were two of the pitching stallions in the SSC this season and hooked up for a 1-0 game in Lakeland earlier this year. Barry took that one and went on to a 3-game sweep of the Moccasins, but Florida Southern improved to 9-2 all-time against the Buccaneers in postseason play with its victory on Friday. The teams last met in the NCAA playoffs in 2007, with the Mocs winning that game too by the score of 1-0, on a 6th-inning home run by Sarah Kohlbrenner.
The 6th-seeded Moccasins (37-16) got their run in the top of the third inning after loading the bases with one out on a single by Sam Gale, a bunt single by Karlyn Scott and another single by Steph Graziani. Grimes ran the count full and earned a walk and an RBI when Brianna Smith’s 3-2 delivery appeared to slip out of her hand. It bounced behind Grimes and went to the backstop as Gale scored.
Clark, who is now 27-9, made that run hold up as the senior pitched her 12th shutout of the season, allowing five hits and no walks while striking out four. She also hit a batter for only the second time all season, but the 3rd-seeded Buccaneers (40-10, ranked #13) stranded five and had another runner cut down on the bases by right fielder Dayna Hunn.
Smith, meanwhile, fell to 22-6, and left after pitching 5.0 innings. The senior, who had a league-high 15 shutouts during the regular season, gave up only four hits, walked three and struck out two. Alexis Yohe pitched the final two innings for Barry and retired six of the seven batters she faced. Christie Bailey was the only Moccasin to reach against Yohe when she was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the seventh.
Barry pushed two runners into scoring position against Clark, with one in the first and one in the seventh, only adding to the drama. Clark hit Sarah Broeseker with a pitch in the first inning and gave up a 2-out single to Smith, but survived the early scare when Jessica Tabor popped up into the pitcher’s circle. Tabor later singled leading off the bottom of the seventh and was bunted into scoring position, but Clark ended the game with a fly ball to right and a line drive to first that was caught by Grimes.
The Bucs’ biggest threat though may have come in the second inning when they had two hits off Clark, but lost one of them thanks to Hunn. The Mocs tried to pick Kelly Martinez off when she tried to scramble back to first base with Amber Durkin batting, but the throw went into right field. After a moment’s hesitation, Martinez took off for second, but Hunn reacted quickly on the play, picked up the loose ball in the outfield, and fired to Bailey who put the tag on Martinez sliding into second. Durkin followed with a base hit, but it was the last Buccaneer base runner until Grace Collins singled with one out in the sixth.
After scoring in the third inning, the Moccasins got their leadoff batter on base in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings but were unable to score again facing the pitching combo of Smith and Yohe.
Scott went 2-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases for the Moccasins, while Graziani and Gale had Florida Southern’s other two hits.
Florida Southern will play its next game in the double-elimination tournament on Saturday at 1:00 against the winner of Friday night’s West Alabama-Tampa game.