NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Iona College softball team was pinned up against the Siena College Saints on Friday afternoon. The two teams near atop the Metro Atlantic Athletic Standings split a pair of contests, each coming out of the weekend with a 6-2 league record.
GAME ONE: Siena 5, Iona 3 (9 Innings)
Despite a late two-run homerun by senior centerfielder Kelsey Long, the Maroon & Gold dropped game one 5-3 in a back-and-forth nine inning affair. Siena was able to walk-off courtesy of a two-run round-tripper from freshman Lauren Sabihon.
Siena saw an early offensive threat extinguished in the first when junior right fielder Courtney Miller gunned down junior Paige Hess at third base to end the first frame. It was Miller’s first outfield assist of the season.
Iona started the second inning by putting runners on first and second. Freshman designated player Jasmine Temple grounded out unassisted to first base, advancing junior catcher Tori Danner and senior shortstop Katie Newton into scoring position. The Saints escaped without any damage done by retiring both sophomores Kimberly Chiapparelli and Hailey Thompson.
Freshman Marnie Skinner allowed the first two runs of the game in the bottom of the second inning. Sophomore Jazmin Ortiz followed a leadoff walk with a single, putting runners on the corners with nobody retired. Freshman Amanda Dodson grounded out to second base, driving home senior Chelsey Drew. Sophomore Sarah Ho made it 2-0 with a base-knock to centerfield.
The Gaels got on the board in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Danner and Newton both earned free passes. Temple reached base via an error committed by the Seina’s rookie second basemen Patricia Kalesse; Danner was able to cross the plate on the miscue, cutting the deficit to just one.
Skinner kept Siena hitless after the second inning, allowing the chance for a Gael comeback in the seventh. Temple led the inning off by getting hit with a pitch. She was pinch ran for by rookie Rebecca Gabert, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Chiapparelli. Sophomore Marisa Gergel pinch hit for Thompson and flew out to centerfielder, bringing the Gaels to within one out of defeat.
On the brink of a game one loss, Long came through clutch with her third homerun of the season, giving the Maroon & Gold their first lead of the day, 3-2.
Skinner walked Siena junior Brooke Taylor to begin the bottom of the seventh. The Saints made it first and second with nobody out after sophomore Jess Vollmer reached on a bunt single. After getting Hess to pop out, Skinner gave up a game-tying RBI single to sophomore Madysen Cossack. With the game knotted at 3-3 and the winning run on second base, Skinner retired to the next two batter to ensure extra innings.
Senior first basemen Kristen Turner hit her 38th career double in the top of the eighth with one out, but was stranded with Danner and Newton being retired.
Dodson led the bottom of the eighth off with a single through the left side. She was pinch ran for by Sabihon, who advanced to second on an out-single by Kalesse. Junior lefty pitcher Jessica Harkness came into relieve Skinner and walked Taylor to load the bases with one out.
Head Coach Melissa Inouye ordered the infield to play in which resulted in a fielder’s choice groundout from Vollmer as Thompson’s throw beat Sabihon to the plate. With two out and Siena’s three-hitter up, Harkness escaped danger by getting Hess to ground out to Turner unassisted.
The game came to an end in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run walk off homerun by Sabihon.
Skinner went 7.1 innings in her no-decision effort, allowing three runs on eight hits and six walks. Harkness took the loss, allowing two earned runs in 1.1 innings of work. Junior Lauren Butts went the full nine innings for Siena, allowing two earned runs on six hits and three walks.
GAME 2: Iona 8, Siena 0 (5 Innings)
Using an early offensive boom and stellar performing in the circle, the Gaels responded immediately to its game one extra inning loss.
Starting in the first inning, the Maroon & Gold bounced on the Saints early. Hitting in the number two hole, Newton drew a one out walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch. After Turner struck out swinging, Danner doubled deep to right center and drove home Newton for the Gaels first run. Temple followed it up with a RBI single down the third base line, giving the Iona an early 2-0 edge.
A second error committed by the Siena second basemen gave Iona an extra out, and Chiapparelli made sure the Maroon & Gold cashed in. Iona’s hot corner fielder singled to center field and drove home Temple for a third opening inning run.
Iona added on a pair of runs in the top of the third inning. Danner scored on Thompson’s unconventional leftfield to third base fielder’s choice out, and Long drove home her third run of the day with a single to centerfield, pushing Chiaparelli across the plate.
After a scoreless fourth, the Maroon & Gold added scored three in the top of the fifth via three free passes handed out with the bases loaded. Turner, Danner, and Temple earned the runs batted as Iona led Siena 8-0 after five innings.
Sophomore Alana Evans spun a magical web of five shutout innings, leading the Gaels to a run-margin shortened victory. She struck out five, walked three, and allowed just two runs. She faced 21 batters, allowing just one extra base hit.
Long, Chiapparelli, and Danner each had a game-high two hits. Danner and Temple each had a pair of runs batted in.
Iona stays on the road and takes on Monmouth in West Long Branch, NJ tomorrow, Saturday, Apr. 15. You can watch the Gaels live on ESPN3, beginning at 3 PM.