The Gannon University softball team started the second month of its season in exciting fashion with a doubleheader sweep of rival Mercyhurst Thursday, 6-5 and 3-2, with both wins coming in the final inning.
In the first game, Mercyhurst took a 5-0 lead, scoring two runs in the first inning and three more in the third. Gannon began to rally in the fifth inning, scoring three runs behind RBIs from sophomore Allie Salerno and senior Alyssa Bates.
Junior Jen Moran tied the game in the sixth inning with a two-run double, setting up a grandstand finish for the seventh and final inning.
Sophomore Nathaly Pacheco scored the eventual winning run after leading off the top of the seventh with a double, advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt, and finally scoring on senior Alexa Archambeault’s single to center field.
Sophomore Jackie Martinez, Bates, Pacheco, and Kellyn Perich each contributed two hits in the win, while junior pitcher Olivia Gumbita picked up her seventh victory of the season, striking out eight Lakers batters and walking just one in a complete-game performance.
Gannon jumped out to a third-inning lead in game two when Moran blasted a two-run home run to left field.
Mercyhurst would then tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, and threatened to score more as it had the bases loaded, but Perich, working on the mound, was able to find a way out of the jam.
Moran scored the run in the seventh inning that gave Gannon a 3-2 win, after leading off with a double, advancing to third on a ground out, and finally crossing the plate thanks to a Bates single.Once again, four Knights contributed two hits each, and Perich notched the win with a complete game, improving her record to 2-4.
Martinez said beating the rival Lakers was a major accomplishment for the Knights.
“It was a huge boost to our confidence since the rivalry brings out our competitiveness,” she said.
On Friday, Gannon traveled to Seton Hill to play another doubleheader, but this time the Knights did not fare as well. Gannon lost the first of the two games, 8-0, after the mercy rule went into effect after just five innings.
The Knights did not record a hit in the game for the third time this season. Gumbita was handed the loss.
Gannon was unable to improve in its second game against Seton Hill, falling behind 20-0 after just three innings before eventually losing 21-2. The Knights were able to push across two runs in the fourth innings, behind a Seton Hill error and a fielder’s choice.
Perich was tagged with the loss. Gannon managed six hits in the game, three coming from Martinez, two from sophomore Katie Eckelberry and one from junior Jenn Krider.
Sunday’s doubleheader against California University of Pennsylvania saw more of the same for the Knights. Gannon actually started well in the first game, going ahead 1-0 in the first inning thanks to a solo home run from Moran, which turned out to be Gannon’s only hit of the game.
The Vulcans went on to score nine runs to win the game 9-1 in six innings after the eight-run rule came into effect. The loss was given to Perich.
Despite keeping the second game close, Gannon was unable to come away with a favorable result, losing 1-0 to the nation’s 13th- ranked team.
Gumbita pitched a complete game, only allowing four hits, but it wasn’t enough to secure the victory. Martinez led the Knights’ offense with three hits, while the rest of the team only managed to contribute two.
After a less than ideal week on the diamond, Gannon’s record fell to 10-14 overall and 2-6 in PSAC play. With home games Friday and Saturday at McConnell Family Stadium against Mercyhurst and Slippery Rock, respectively, the Knights will hope to rebound and get back on the right track heading down the stretch.
Friday’s doubleheader with The Rock is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. while Saturday’s doubleheader matchup with the rival Lakers will begin at 3 p.m.
By STEPHEN BOLTRI