Pitney's Two Home Runs Lift Manhattan Into MAAC Tournament
NEW ROCHELLE, NY – Lauren Pitney (Ansonia, CT) crushed two home runs and Nicole Williams (Ansonia, CT) allowed just one unearned run on three hits, as the Manhattan College softball team clinched a place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Tournament for the fourth consecutive season with a 7-1 victory over Iona at Donald E. Walsh Field on Sunday afternoon. The Gaels (26-20, 15-5 MAAC) defeated the Jaspers (33-19, 13-7 MAAC) 1-0 in the second game of the twinbill.
Pitney's first blast, a solo shot to left center, gave Manhattan a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. For a while, it looked like that run might hold up, as Williams gave up just two singles and two walks over the first five innings.
The Jaspers then padded their lead with a pair of unearned runs in the sixth. After Briana Matazinsky (Valley Falls, NY), Pitney and Christine Gebhardt (Middletown, NJ) all walked to load the bases, two runs scored on a passed ball and an error, making it 3-0. Iona picked up an unearned run of its own in the bottom of the sixth before Manhattan broke it open with a four-spot in the seventh.
Stephanie Reinhardt (Albany, NY) drew a leadoff walk, stole second, and took third on a wild pitch. On the next pitch, Shannon Puthe (Mullica Hill, NJ) ripped an RBI single to center that made it 4-1 Jaspers. After Matazinsky walked with two out, Pitney lifted a foul popup that dropped between the catcher and third baseman, extending her at-bat. She made the Gaels pay, as she deposited the next pitch over the left field wall for her second home run of the game. Williams then struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to close out the 7-1 victory.
Williams (12-6) finished with 10 strikeouts and walked three in the complete game effort. Pitney, meanwhile, had three of the Jaspers' four hits. She also drew a walk, extending her streak to eight consecutive plate appearances reaching base. Pitney scored three runs and drove in four on her two homers. Puthe's RBI single was the other Manhattan hit. Matazinsky, meanwhile, scored twice after drawing a pair of walks.
Marisa Gergel, Ashlyn Morris and Hailey Thompson recorded Iona's three singles off Williams, and Gergel scored the Gaels' lone run on a Katie Newton sacrifice fly. Alana Evans (16-5) suffered her first loss since March 29 (she had been 10-0 in MAAC games) after yielding seven runs, only two of which were earned, on four hits in 6.2 innings. She struck out seven and walked seven. Jessica Harkness faced two batters in the seventh, notching a walk and a strikeout.
Both teams entered game two knowing that the loser would be eliminated from contention for the No. 1 seed and the privilege of hosting the MAAC Tournament. This time it was Iona that struck first, as the Gaels roped three singles to right field in the third, with Kristen Turner's base hit knocking in a run.
In the top of the fourth, Manhattan put two runners on when Alexa Dawid (Milford, CT) reached on a one-out single and Matazinsky followed with a walk. Pitney moved the runners over with a groundout, but Jenn Vazquez (Fairfield, CT) grounded out to end the threat. Then in the sixth, Dawid, who had reached on an error, was called out for leaving the base early on a steal attempt, ending in the inning.
Matazinsky, meanwhile, worked around a pair of hits in the bottom of the fourth when she got Kelsey Long to pop out. After a leadoff single by Morris in the fifth, Kayla McDermott (Garnerville, NY) came on to pitch for the Jaspers. She left the runner stranded on first, then struck out Long with two runners on to end the sixth and keep it a 1-0 game.
After Matazinsky reached on an error to start the seventh, Pitney popped to short and Vazquez flied to right. With Gebhardt at the plate, pinch runner Maddie Colombo (Los Gatos, CA) was thrown out trying to steal second, ending the game and Manhattan's chances at hosting. With the 1-0 victory, Iona clinched at least a share of the MAAC regular season title.
Dawid's fourth-inning single was the only Manhattan hit in the contest. Matazinsky (14-7) took the loss in the circle after surrendering one run on seven hits with a pair of strikeouts in four-plus innings. McDermott tossed two scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out three.
Iona tallied nine hits in game two, with Turner finishing 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Thompson also had two hits for the Gaels, while Morris scored the contest's lone run. Marine Skinner (8-8) pitched a one-hit shutout. She recorded three strikeouts and walked two.Manhattan will be either the No. 3 or 4 seed in the MAAC Tournament and face either Fairfield (22-26, 11-9 MAAC) or Monmouth (22-29, 11-9 MAAC) in the first round on Wednesday. The Jaspers will find out their seed and opponent, as well as the location of the tournament, after tomorrow's Siena-Niagara doubleheader. Either Iona or Siena will be the host.