BALTIMORE – UMBC softball battled Maine tough all weekend long, but the Retrievers fell short of taking its America East opening series, dropping Sunday afternoon’s contest at UMBC Softball Stadium, 7-6, to the Black Bears. Freshman right fielder Danielle O'Neill (Loathian, Md./Southern) finished the afternoon with two hits and a team-best three RBI after launching her first collegiate home run in the contest.
Maine snagged the series, picking up a nine inning 11-7 victory in game two on Saturday, and holding off the Retrievers in the bottom of the seventh on Sunday to improve to 5-26 (2-1 AEC) on the year, while UMBC drops to 7-21 (1-2 AEC).
Maine came out of the gates swinging, opening what proved to be a seesaw battle with back-to-back doubles to put runners on second and third and following with a sacrifice fly to left field from first baseman Hilary Kane.
After retiring six straight batters in the second and third inning, the Retrievers jumped out in front in the bottom of the third on a three-run blast from O’Neill. Sophomore catcher Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cosby) reached on an error and junior Chelsea Bertoglio (Laguna Hills, Calif./Saddleback College) drew a one-out walk to set up O’Neill’s blast.
The Black Bears were right back on the offensive, opening the top of the fourth inning with a double, triple and back-to-back singles to knot up the contest at three-all. Maine was not done yet though, another single, this one from pitcher Kylie Sparks, put the Black Bears back out in front, 4-3.
UMBC proved resilient again, tying up things again in the bottom half of the fourth inning, freshman designated player Jane Pardo (Malverne, N.Y./Sacred Heart) led off with a blooper into right field. Hall drew a two-out walk to put runners on first and second and a single through the left side of the infield from Bertoglio made it a 4-4 ballgame.
Maine threatened in the top of the fifth inning, loading the bases against UMBC starting pitcher Heather Brown (Pasadena, Md./Northeast), but the Black Bears were unable to cash in with two outs, as Brown got pinch hitter Nikki Byron to ground out to escape the jam.
Maine was able to take advantage in the following inning, as a walk, followed by a passed ball and single put pinch runner Jenny MacDowell on the third base with one out. A ground out to second base from third baseman Jean Stevens score MacDowell from third to put Maine on top 5-4.
The Retrievers had an answer in the bottom of the sixth, as the Black Bears brought in its second reliever of the day in Alexis Bogdanovich. Freshman Bridget O'Malley (Brooklyn, Md./Seton Keough) started things off with a one-out double down the left field line and Bertoglio added her second hit of the day, a single just inside the left field line to score O’Malley from second, once again tying the contest.
The Black Bears took the lead once and for all in the top of the seventh inning. Right fielder Jessica Burk led off with a single through the left side of the infield and on a full count left fielder Hannah Hill snuck a hit over the fence in right center field, to give Maine the 7-5 advantage.
UMBC did not go down without a fight though, center fielder Mary Hartman (Eldersburg, Md./Century) snuck in an infield hit between the first and second baseman with one out and moved over to second on a ground out by Pardo. Freshman left fielder Jordan Sganga (Edgewater, Md./South River) picked up her first hit of the day, a single down the right field line to score Hartman from second and bring UMBC within one, 7-6, but that was as close as the Retrievers would come as a fielder’s choice from O’Malley ended the contest.
Brown (4-8) surrendered six earned runs in seven innings of work and was credited with a decision in all three games over the weekend. Sparks, who reentered in the final inning, was the winning pitcher (1-3), allowing four earned runs on nine hits in five innings.
UMBC hits the road for a doubleheader at Saint Peter’s on Wednesday, March 27. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. at Jaroschak Field.