DAHLONEGA, GA – In one of the wildest games in North Georgia postseason history, the top-seeded Saints used five home runs to battle back and defeat 2nd-seeded Lenoir-Rhyne 9-7 and force a third and final game at the NCAA Southeast Super Regional.
North Georgia (51-10) has now hit nine home runs in the first two games of the Southeast Super Regional and stave off elimination to force the if-necessary game that will take place later this afternoon. The winner of the third game will advance to the 2011 Division II World Series in Salem, Virginia, next week. Lenoir-Rhyne falls to 45-9 on the year and will face an elimination game for the first time during their 2011 postseason run.
North Georgia wasted no time taking an early lead for the second time in as many games, as Ansley Williams led off the game and blasted a 2-2 pitch over the fence in left center to give the Saints a 1-0 advantage. For Williams, the blast was her team-leading 13th home run of the year.
The Bears came right back in their half of the first inning and could do little wrong, recording three hits and a walk in their first four at bats, including a double down the right field line by Haily Jarmin to plate a pair and give Lenoir-Rhyne the lead at 2-1.
The long ball continued to be the story of the tournament when Kayla Martin stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases empty and belted a no-doubter over the fence in left center to pull the Saints even and knot the score at 2-2. The home run was the ninth blast of the Southeast Super Regional in as many innings.
The home run parade continued over the next two innings when Carlee Carpenter led off the third inning and drilled a solo shot to left field, breaking the deadlock and giving Lenoir-Rhyne the lead right back at 3-2.
Not to be outdone, Katherine Martin stepped to the plate in the fourth inning and connected with the Saints' seventh solo home run of the weekend, this time a line drive to left center to tie the score up once again at 3-3.
With North Georgia putting single runs up in three separate innings, Lenoir-Rhyne tallied a three spot in the fourth inning, using a pair of RBI base knocks, including a single to left center by Carpenter to plate two runs. The Bears forced the issue later in the inning on a wild pitch, but Carpenter was gunned down at the plate when Natasha Willemse made the flip to Krysten Connelly who applied the tag to end the frame.
The Saints refused to go down without a fight, battling back in the fifth inning with another home run, this time a two-run blast off the bat of Willemse, pulling North Georgia to within a run at 6-5. Pilar Harden came to the plate later in the inning with two runners and continued the home run derby, hitting a moon shot over the fence in left field to give the Saints their largest lead of the day at 8-6.
Lenoir-Rhyne had a golden chance to get right back in the game as the Bears loaded the bases on three straight walks to start the last of the fifth inning, but Jessica Coan came in out of relief and escaped the jam without a run scoring to preserve the Saints' two-run lead.
The Bears to pulled to within a run in the bottom of the sixth inning, but North Georgia battled back and tacked on one more in the seventh frame to create the final margin of victory.
Connelly (5-1) was the winning pitcher for the Saints, recording just one out and walking a pair, while Jessica Coan earned her second save of the year, tossing the final 3.0 inning and walking four, while striking out six. Megan Laxton (6-2) was the losing pitcher for the Bears, giving up three hits and four runs in just 0.2 innings of work.