LAKELAND – Hannah Loyer struck out 15 batters Tuesday night with one spectacular relief outing and a complete game effort in the nightcap as a starter. But Ferris State came away with two comeback wins sparked by leadoff batter Alyssa Smith as the Bulldogs pulled off the sweep with 6-4 and 5-4 victories.
The Moccasins (8-7-1) led both games after the second inning before the Bulldogs (5-1) rallied for two more wins on their 22-game trip to Florida to start the season. Smith already had an RBI triple in the second inning of game one that had given Ferris State a 2-1 lead at the time, and when the Bulldogs lost that lead she helped re-claim it with a single, stolen base and run scored in the fourth inning. In the second game, the Bulldogs trailed 4-0 going into the fifth inning when Smith reached on a 2-out infield single that led to their first two runs of the game, and her 2-run triple in the seventh tied the score before she scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Alexx Astorga.
Loyer kept Florida Southern in game one when she was called upon with two out in the top of the fourth and the Mocs trailing 6-3. Freshman catcher Zierra Flodman actually ended that inning for the Mocs when she caught a runner trying to steal third, and Loyer followed that by pitching three scoreless innings with five strikeouts, one hit allowed and one walk.
Starting the second game in the pitcher's circle, Loyer (now 1-2) had 10 more strikeouts and the junior gave up just five hits with four walks. The Bulldogs, however, scored two runs in the fifth inning on a double by Astorga and three more in the seventh, coming on Smith's 2-run triple and Astorga's sac fly.
Offensively, the Moccasins got three hits from Erica Morrissey in the doubleheader, with the junior third baseman notching their only two hits of game one. Senior Jordan Alexander and junior Beri Scott each had two hits in game two, with Alexander also drawing a walk.
Ferris State got its two wins while overcoming eight errors, and neither Megan Vanderwal nor Stacy Thompson gave up any earned runs for the Bulldog pitching staff combining for all 14 innings. Vanderwal surrendered only two hits in the opener with Morrissey picking up an RBI single in the second inning and another single in the fifth.
The Moccasins scored their first run of that game in the bottom of the first when Vanderwal walked Flodman and hit senior Maggie Roberts to put two on with two out. Freshman Jessica Trana then hit a ground ball to shortstop that was thrown away for an error, allowing Flodman to score for a 1-0 lead.
A double by Alexis Hongisto and a triple by Smith, along with a Florida Southern error, allowed Ferris State to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the second, but the Mocs scored two in the bottom of the second to go back on top. Another walk and another error led to those runs as junior Erin Klein scored on Morrissey's single, and Alexander crossed the plate on an errant throw from the outfield.
The Mocs' 3-2 lead was short-lived. RBI singles by Bailey Darwin and Emily Reed put Ferris State ahead 4-3 in the third inning, and the Bulldogs used three hits in the fourth to score two more runs. One scored on a ground out by Astorga and the other scored on Michelle Tononi's second double of the game.
When Morrissey singled in the fifth and took third on a sacrifice bunt by Flodman, and Roberts reached on an error, the Mocs had runners at the corners with a chance to cut into the deficit. They did so with Morrissey and Roberts pulling off a double steal, but they were held to just one base runner the rest of the game. Vanderwal made an impressive fielding play to deny Loyer a hit leading off the sixth inning, and Thompson pitched the seventh inning for Ferris State by working around the Bulldogs' fifth error of the game.
Vanderwal got the win for her first decision of the year, and Thompson recorded her first save. Junior Sydney Koch took the loss for Florida Southern, falling to 3-2 after pitching the first 3.2 innings and allowing six runs (four earned) on nine hits with one strikeout and one walk.
The Moccasins started game two with back-to-back singles by Alexander and Morrissey and a wild throw on a ball hit by junior Katie Patterson with two out gave Florida Southern two runs. In the second inning, a single by freshman Makayla Deuberry and a walk by Alexander led to two more runs, with Flodman driving in one of them with a bases-loaded single and the other scoring on an error.
With the combination of Smith and Astorga at the top of the Ferris State lineup driving in all five runs for the visitors, the Moccasins found themselves down 5-4 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Attempting to rally themselves, the Mocs got a single from Klein to start the inning, followed by another single by Alexander. Morrissey bunted them over to give Florida Southern two chances to get the tying and winning runs across but Thompson kept them on base.
The runners were forced to hold when Flodman grounded out to third and Thompson walked Trana to load the bases. Patterson then hit a ground ball that Thompson was able to grab and get to first baseman Sarah Ferenz for the final out of the game, improving her own record to 3-0. The Moccasins had eight hits and two walks off her, and Thompson did not strike out a single batter, but none of the four runs against her were earned.
Florida Southern will be at home again Wednesday night with a makeup doubleheader against Flagler beginning at 6 p.m. Please note that there will not be a live video feed for these games.