TUCSON--Pacific (36-23) capped its two-game outburst of 25 runs with a 12-10 victory over Mississippi State on Friday night to eliminate the Bulldogs (35-27) and move into Sunday's final round against host Arizona in the Tucson region of the NCAA Softball Championships at Hillenbrand Stadium.
The game was a hit fest, with a combined 26 by both teams, roughing up a combined six pitchers. A total of 47 runners reached base in one way or another.
The Bulldogs brought in two runs int he top of the first on a suicide squeeze bunt by Katie Cooley, plating Hayle Guess, and an RBI single by Sammie Jo Bailey. Pacific answered in its half of the frame with a walk, a sacrifice bunt and an RBI single by Jennifer Curtier to cut it to 2-1.
MSU put runners on the corners with singles by Cooley and Katie Johnson in the third, and then Jessie Bailey came through with a single up the middle to make it 3-1. Blair Hewett drew a walk to load the bases, and Nakita Boyce hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Johnson for a 4-1 lead. Again Pacific answered, this time with an unearned run off a single by Vianney Campos, a groundout and a passed ball, and a groundout RBI by Alyce Jorgensen.
Pacific took the lead with a big fourth that chased both MSU starter Kelsey Nurnberg and reliever Kelli Miller. Curtier and Kellee Wilson singled, and Lauren Weyman loaded the bases when her sac bunt was mishandled. Mandy Hickman drove in one run with a single to center, and Casey Goldsand singled to third to drive in another for a 5-4 lead. An out later, Gina Carbonatto made it 6-4 with a single up the middle.Hagen dropped in another single in center to make it 7-4.
The second reliever, Sara Hickerson, came in and gave up a single to right by Curtier to drive in two more runs.
A passed ball moved up Hagen and Carbonatto to second and third and Jorgensen walked to load the bases, After a second out, a throwing error by Courtney Bures allowed two more to score on Weyman's grounder. In all, UOP had 13 plate appearances in the inning and emerged with an 11-4 lead.
Guess drove in a run in the top of the fifth to post another tally for MSU, but Pacific loaded the bases again in the bottom of the inning and got a sac fly by Jorgensen to make it 12-5.
The Bulldogs made it more than interesting in the top of the sixth with an RBI single by Katie Johnson, a run-scoring wild pitch and an RBI single by Hewett to cut the lead to four. With runners at the corners and no outs, Nakita Boyce hit a fielder's choice to bring in a run and an out later, a error by shortstop Hagen allowed another run to cross for a 12-10 score.