March 21, 2009

#3 Saints "Walk-Off" with Sweep of Pirates

Game 1 | Game 2

DAHLONEGA, GA – 3rd-ranked North Georgia picked up two more wins Saturday afternoon, taking game one 5-3, before using a walk-off home run from Hilary Cox to send the Saints to an 8-7 victory in the nightcap and sweep a doubleheader from Armstrong Atlantic in Peach Belt Conference action.

The Saints improve to 27-3 overall, and 5-1 in the Peach Belt Conference, while the Pirates fall to 15-17 on the season and 3-5 in the league.

In game one, North Georgia got on the board early with a single run in the first inning, before adding two in the second and one more in the third to take a 4-0 lead. Courtney McGuire produced the first run of the game, blasting her league-leading 10th home run of the season in the first inning to give the Saints a 1-0 advantage.

North Georgia pushed two more runs across in the second frame as Pilar Harden and Stephanie Farmakis reached on singles to bring Cox to the plate who singled through the left side to score two and make it 3-0. Leslee Smith drove home another run in the third inning to give the Saints a four-run lead.

The Pirates came back in the fifth and cut the North Georgia lead in half. Jessica Strong grounded out to the pitcher to score in the first run of the inning, and Ashley Buckett followed and doubled to center field, plating Baillie Temples and making it 4-2 after five innings.

Kaelin Farrington added an insurance run in the sixth, guiding a single through the left side to score Farmakis and give North Georgia a 5-2 advantage. Temples added another run for the Pirates in the seventh with a leadoff home run, but the Saints would hold on for the 5-3 victory.

Sarah Phillips picked up the victory for the Saints, tossing 7.0 innings and allowing three runs on five hits while striking out eight. Emily Headrick (6-5) suffered the loss for AASU, giving up four runs on six hits in 2.1 innings of work.

In game two, it was Armstrong Atlantic’s turn to score the first as Nicole Huddleston doubled to right center with two outs to score Stephanie Mattes and give the Pirates a 1-0 first-inning lead.

North Georgia answered right back with six unanswered runs, scoring three in the first and three more in the second to take a 6-1 lead. The Saints used back-to-back doubles from Smith and Harden to plate all three first-inning runs and take the lead. In the second inning, Laura Voyles launched a solo home run for the first run of the frame, while Smith drove in two more with an RBI double as the Saints opened up a five-run advantage.

The Pirates answered back with an unearned run in the third inning as a routine grounder back to the pitcher by Sam Floyd turned into a throwing error and Floyd came all the way around to score on the play and make it 6-2.

Smith continued to drive in runs for the Saints, her fifth RBI of the day, this time using a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to score Kasey Knight and extend North Georgia’s lead to five at 7-2.

Just as it looked like the game might be out of reach, Armstrong Atlantic put together five hits in the fifth inning to bring home five runs and tie the game. Floyed doubled home two runs to start the scoring in the frame, while Huddleston added an RBI hit, and Ashley capped the five-run inning with a two-run line drive home run down the left field line to make it 7-7.

While both teams managed base runners in the sixth inning, neither team took the lead and the Saints came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with the score still tied. After a grounder to third base for the first out of the inning, Cox stepped to the dish and crushed her second collegiate home run, and her second game-winning home run, this time sending the Saints to an 8-7 victory in walk-off fashion as Cox was mobbed by her teammates at home plate.

The victory sends North Georgia to their 19th victory in their last 20 games, and caps their second PBC doubleheader sweep of the season.

Sarah Phillips (17-1) came on in relief to pick up her second victory of the day, pitching the last 2.2 innings and allowing two hits and one earned run while striking out one.

Britton Hammel-Cobb (0-5) took the loss for the Pirates, recording 1.1 innings of work, and giving up two hits and one earned run while striking out one.

The Saints will take Sunday off before welcoming in-state rival Columbus State University to town on Monday afternoon for a Peach Belt Conference doubleheader with first pitch slated for 3:00 p.m.

The Pirates will have nearly a week off before hosting Flagler College on Friday, March 27, for a doubleheader at 2:00 p.m.