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Gorillas Sweep Upper Iowa in Home Opening Doubleheader - KOAM TV 7

Courtesy: PSU Sports Information

Gorillas Sweep Upper Iowa in Home Opening Doubleheader

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PITTSBURG -- The Pittsburg State softball team improved to 4-7 on the season with two wins in its 2011 home opener. The Gorillas earned a 8-0 shutout over the Upper Iowa Peacocks before winning a 4-3 thriller in game two.

Pitt State used two big innings and quality pitching from freshman Tiffany Brown to seal up the 8-0, 5-inning shut out in game one.

Sophomore Kreslee Ketcham and junior Mannie DeCastro evenly split the team's RBI in the game, each with four. Ketcham went 2-for-3 with a run scored and a double, while DeCastro was 1-for-3 with a run scored and a home run. Katelyn Birchfield was 1-for-1 on the game with two walks and two runs scored.

The game was scoreless through two and a half innings, until the Gorillas lit up the scoreboard with five runs in the bottom of the third. Breanna McCracken led off the inning with a base hit to left field. Brenna George laid with a bunt single right in front of the plate to move McCracken to second. Both runners moved up 60 feet on a wild pitch. Katelyn Birchfield reached on an infield single to load the bases. Ketcham double through the left side to bring home McCracken and George for a 2-0 lead. DeCastro blasted her three run shot over the left field fence to give the Gorillas the five run advantage. The homer was her fourth of the season.

George helped the Gorillas get started again in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, she dropped a base hit in centerfield. She stole second to put herself in scoring position. Erin Eddy added another base hit, putting runners on first and third. Eddy stole second. Birchfield walked to load the bases for Ketcham. Ketcham came through with a big double to right for two RBI and a 7-0 lead. DeCastro and Birchfield added the final run as Birchfield scored on a DeCastro ground out to put the team up by eight runs.

Brown went the distance in the circle for the Gorillas. She allowed only three hits and one walk, while striking out six Peacock batters.

Game two came down to the seventh inning before it was decided. Pitt State was leading 4-3 going into the top of the final inning. Hannah Jones drew a lead off walk to start the seventh. Erin Bennek doubled to center field. Chelsey Sechrest drew the second walk of the inning to load the bases. Then relief pitcher Brown took matters into her hands as she struck out the next batter, forced an infield pop up and then added another strike out for the third out of the inning to end the game and earn a save.

Pitt State struck first in the bottom of the third. With one out, Eddy reached on an error by the Peacock first baseman. After a second out, Ketcham drew a walk. DeCastro knocked a double to center to score Eddy for the 1-0 lead.

Upper Iowa took a 2-1 edge after the top of the fourth. Two walks started the inning and a sacrifice bunt moved the batters into scoring position. A Pitt State error allowed both runs to score.

The Gorillas answered in the bottom of the inning to gain a one-run advantage. With one out, McCracken drove a base hit to left field. Alycia Fivecoats came in to pinch run for her. Jessica Barnes drew a walk and Kelsey Hensen stepped in for her at first. Brenna George laid down the sacrifice bunt to move both runners. Eddy drove a double to left to bring home Fivecoats and Hensen and tie the game at 3-3. Birchfield got the game-winning RBI as she dropped a base hit in center field to score Eddy.

Samantha Grove started the game for the Gorillas and earned the win. She gave up four hits and three runs, though only one of the runs was earned. She also walked three batters and struck out three in four innings. Brown replaced Grove in the fifth to earn the save, the first of her collegiate career. Both pitchers now have a 2-3 record on the season.

Eddy and McCracken led the Gorillas at the plate in game two, each with a 2-for-3 performance. Eddy also added two runs and two RBI.

Pitt State has the rest of the weekend off, but will return to action on Wednesday, March 16. The team will face Newman in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. at the PSU Softball Complex.

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