NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The end result of Saturday’s NCAA East Regional contest between top-seeded Southern Connecticut State University and No. 5 seeded UMass-Lowell wasn’t decided until the final play of the game. However, shortstop Nicole Buch (Darien, Conn.) fired home to catcher Stacy Pouliot (Mystic, Conn.) to cut down the tying run and preserve a 5-4 Owls’ win over the River Hawks. Southern Connecticut (39-10) advances to Sunday’s regional final at noon and need just one more win to advance to the NCAA Super Regional.
The game was tied at 4-4 heading into the final inning. Southern Connecticut’s rally began with two outs when Kate Hoffman (Orange, Conn.) placed a double into short left field. After a walk to Jessica Rosa (Wallingford, Conn.), Pouliot connected for a RBI single through the left side that plated pinch runner Alyssa Pagano (Monroe, Conn.).
In the bottom of the frame, Jayme Larson (Aurora, Colo.) sandwiched a walk to Meagan Guy around two outs. Elyssa Boris then followed with a single through the right side. Guy easily made it to third base on the hit, but Boris attempted to advance to second on the throw into the infield. The Owls made a throw to second base, but Buch alertly threw home as Guy attempted to score the tying run. Pouliot absorbed contact, but held on to the ball to secure the win.
Southern Connecticut was in control for much of the first four and a half innings. Playing as the visitors, the Owls started the game off on the right foot when Brittany Bucko (Wallington, N.J.) launched her team-high 18th home run of the year.
UMass-Lowell tied the game in the third, but SCSU countered with two runs in the fourth and one more in the fifth.
The fourth inning threat began with a single by Alyssa Downs (Seymour, Conn.), who moved to second base on an error one out later. After an intentional walk to Rosa, Pouliot laced a single up the middle to score Downs for a 2-1 lead. The next batter, Julie Muscarella (Suffield, Conn.) followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Rosa to extend the cushion to two runs.
The Owls added one more in the fifth. Buch singled, moved to second on a groundout and came in on a RBI single by Rosa.
However, the River Hawks tied the game with three runs in the fifth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases before Caelyn Ford blooped a double down the right field line that cleared the bases.