May 21, 2011
COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Four home runs, including a second grand slam on the weekend by Freshman Amber Garza, propelled the No. 16 seed Texas A&M softball team (43-13) to a 13-5 victory over Syracuse (45-12) Saturday in the Aggies' second game of the NCAA Tournament. With the win, the Aggies will move on to the championship round of the College Station Regional Sunday at 1 p.m.
"One thing that really helps tomorrow is the statement we've made offensively," head coach Jo Evans said. "We're going to come at you from all angles, and we're going to do it throughout the lineup. We're not just counting on one or two people to hit, we're going to hit all the way through our lineup. Coming in tomorrow, our hope is that that's in the back of whoever's mind when we're playing them. You're going to have to throw something special at us to beat us. We're not over-confident, we just need to feel in control of our destiny."
A pair of home runs over the wall in left field shoved the designated visitor Aggies out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second. Senior Rhi Kliesing led off with her second solo bomb on the weekend. Dumezich followed with a walk and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Emily Albus.
"I think I got my confidence back," Kliesing said. "I've just been working hard in the cages and at practice and stuff, and it's helped me get my confidence back being comfortable up there at the plate. And I definitely don't mind at all when the freshman hit their home runs, I'm all for it."
Freshman Nicole Morgan laid down a bunt single on the third base line and pushed Albus to second. The pair advanced a base on an illegal pitch before redshirt junior Natalie Villarreal sent a three-run long ball out of the stadium over left field.
The Orange answered in the bottom of the third with a lone run that was forced in on a hit batter. All four runners were walked, but the run wasn't enough to catch up with the Aggies, in a 4-1 lead.
A&M stretched ahead immediately, with four more runs in the top of the fourth. Freshman Cassie Tysarczyk opened the frame with a pitch to the shoulder that narrowly missed her face. With two outs, sophomore Meagan May homered over right field for two RBI.
The inning wasn't over there, though. Senior Kelsey Spittler took four balls to reach first and was sent to second on a single to right-center by Garza. Kliesing picked up a second RBI, on a single through the right side that plated Spittler. Sophomore Mel Dumezich added a second single, down the left field line, to score Garza for the 8-1 advantage.
A three-run shot over left by Syracuse third baseman Hallie Gibbs narrowed the gap to 8-4, but the Aggies shut down the final batter and took their revenge in the top of the seventh when Garza hit a grand slam.
Tysarczyk led off in the half-inning with a single to the shortstop and was joined on the bags by Villarreal with a bunt single. Both runners advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Brittany Walker.
May loaded the bases with a walk and was replaced at first by junior Kelsea Orsak before Spittler grounded into a fielder's choice where no play was made, taking an RBI as Tysarczyk crossed home for a second time.
With the full bags again, Garza cleared the fence and hit the scoreboard, clearing the bases for her third grand slam of the season and second on the weekend. The third baseman was 3-for-five on the day with four RBI. Villarreal was also 3-for-5, with three RBI.
Orange center fielder Veronica Grant took a pitch to the body to lead off in the bottom of the seventh. A failed pickoff attempt sent her home, giving Syracuse their final run of the game as the Aggies shut down two more batters to end the game with A&M at a 13-5 advantage.
Dumezich (29-8) pitched six complete innings for the win, fanning six batters and allowing four earned runs on four hits. Syracuse right-handed pitcher Jenna Caira (35-10) suffered the loss, giving up four earned runs on four hits while striking out three and walking two in two innings in the circle.
"Like coach said, I think I was a little hyped up in the beginning," Dumezich said. "I probably did overthrow a little. I thought Hallie Gibbs adjusted her at-bat, and I thought we should have thrown outside on her, because we were going inside on her all day. It was okay, I'd have liked to be better."
The Aggies will play the winner of the LSU-Syracuse game tomorrow at 1 p.m., and again at 4 p.m. if necessary to crown the regional champion. The winner of the College Station Regional will advance to the Super Regional and take on the winner of the No. 1 seed Arizona State-hosted Tempe Regional.