Saints Rally Past Flagler 5-4, Advance to Title Game
DAHLONEGA, GA – North Georgia used a four-run fifth inning on Saturday afternoon to erase a two-run deficit and rally for a 5-4 victory over Flagler College in the semifinals of the NCAA Division II Southeast Dahlonega Regional at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium.
Having won 11 straight games, North Georgia (49-9) advances to Sunday's championship round that will take place at 1:30 p.m., with an if necessary game to follow at 4:00 p.m. The Saints have now won eight straight Southeast Regional games over the last three years.
Flagler College (41-17) falls to the loser's bracket and will take on Augusta State or Erskine College on Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. with the winner emerging to take on North Georgia in the championship round.
North Georgia put together a two-out rally in the third inning when Natasha Willemse singled to left field and after Ansley Williams coaxed a walk, Kasey Knight laced a ball up the middle that was knocked down, allowing Willemse to race home for the first run of the game.
Flagler answered right back in the bottom of the inning however, as Sarah Albino led off with a walk and Robyn Draper followed with a clean single to put pair of runners aboard. After a fielder's choice and lineout put starting pitcher Sarah Phillips one out away from escaping the jam, the Saints connected on three straight singles to give Flagler a 3-1 lead.
Alona Personius tallied the first RBI with a base knock through the left side, while Breezy Collings and Tori Jolley recorded back-to-back run scoring hits to cap the three-run frame and give Flagler a two-run advantage.
North Georgia answered right back in the fifth inning courtesy of some Flagler miscues, as Katie Garrett reached on a throwing error, and Ansley Williams followed two batters later and drilled a double down the left field line to plate Garrett and cut the lead to a single run. The Saints then used some small ball to knot the score on a ground out by Kasey Knight to plate Williams and make it 3-3.
With two outs and the bases empty, North Georgia continued to stay hot at the plate as Sarah Johnson was hit by a pitch and stole second to setup an RBI double to the gap in left center by Pilar Harden to give the Saints the lead right back at 4-3. Katherine Martin refused to end the rally as she followed with a single up the middle to plate Harden and cap a four-run inning to give North Georgia their largest lead of the game at 5-3.
North Georgia held that lead until the bottom of the seventh inning when Flagler found themselves one out away from defeat, but a fielding error at shortstop kept the inning alive and the Flagler Saints capitalized with a run scoring single to right field off the bat of Lauren Ely to send Albino racing to the plate and making it 5-4. Personius followed and had a chance to knot the score with the tying run 60 feet away, but a pop up to the catcher ended the threat and gave North Georgia a come-from-behind victory.
Phillips (20-4) picked up the complete game victory, allowing six hits and four runs, while walking two and striking out four. Donna Munafo (7-8) suffered the loss, giving up six hits and five runs, but only one of them earned in 4.2 innings of work. The junior walked one and tallied five strikeouts.