RIO GRANDE, Ohio — Freshman Alex Kuhn delivered a two-out, game-winning single in the bottom half of the seventh inning to lift the University of Rio Grande to a 4-3 game two win and a doubleheader sweep of the University of Pikeville, Saturday afternoon, in Mid-South Conference action at Rio Softball Park.
The RedStorm parlayed two early runs and a strong pitching performance by freshman Jenna Jones (Lancaster, OH) into a 3-1 opening game triumph.
Rio Grande, which has now won each of the first six games on its final homestand of the season, improved to 26-13 overall and 18-10 in league play.
Pikeville, which entered the weekend hoping to overtake St. Catharine College for the eighth and final spot in the upcoming MSC Tournament, slipped to 13-26 overall and 9-21 in the MSC. The sweep, coupled with two losses at Shawnee State on Friday, leaves the Bears two games behind the Patriots.
Rio Grande was forced to rally from a 3-1 deficit in game two in order to complete the sweep.
Freshman Kari Jenkins (Jackson, OH) had a game-tying, two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning to knot the score at 3-3 and that’s how things stayed until the home half of the seventh.
Miranda Owens, who came on in relief of starter Sydney Morris in the fourth inning, retired each of the first two batters routinely before issuing back-to-back walks to Jones and junior Haley Gwin (Troy, OH) and throwing a wild pitch that put both runners in scoring position.
Kuhn (Oak Hill, OH) followed with her heroics moments later, lining a 1-0 pitch into center field and scoring Jones with the game-winner.
Both teams scored in the first inning thanks to sacrifice flies - by Pikeville’s Hollie Hinkle and Rio Grande sophomore Kim Rollins (Cincinnati, OH) - before the Bears got an RBI triple by Taylor Weeks in the third and scored on a wild pitch by Rio starter Tiffany Bise (Circleville, OH) to take a 3-1 lead.
After the RedStorm tied the game in the fourth, both teams coughed up opportunities to re-take the lead.
Pikeville left the bases loaded in both the fifth and seventh innings, while Rio left a pair of runners on in the fifth.
Kuhn finished 2-for-4 in the win and was one of four RedStorm players to record two hits. Jones, Gwin and freshman Cheyenne Hamaker (Hilliard, OH) also had two hits each and all had a double.
Jones earned the win as the pitcher after coming into to record the final two outs in the top of the seventh, running her season mark to 15-9.
Emily Castle had four hits, including a double, while Weeks had two hits and an RBI in the loss for UPike.
In the opener, Rio Grande scored twice in the second inning and added another run in the fifth to take a 3-0 lead. Jenkins and sophomore Mattie Lanham (Rio Grande, OH) had run-scoring hits in the second and Rollins added an RBI hit in the fifth.
UPike had just two baserunners in the first three innings against Jones - one thanks to an error and the other as a result of a hit batsman - but mounted a bit more of threat in the fourth.
Castle ended up at second base after her apparent inning-ending routine flyball to right was dropped for an error. Sara Browning followed with a single to right - the Bears’ first hit of the game - but Castle was ruled out at the plate in a controversial call trying to score on the hit and the threat died.
UPike did score on a Courtney Morgan fielder’s choice in the sixth, but left runners at second and third base as the inning ended.
Jones surrendered a two-out infield single to Kayla Brown in the seventh, but struck out Brandi Jo Howard to seal the win.
Jones tossed a complete game three-hitter, walking one and striking out three.
Morris, who transferred to UPike from Rio Grande following her freshman season, was the hard-luck loser. She allowed just five hits - all singles - while walking three and striking out three in a complete game effort.
Rio Grande returns to action on Monday afternoon when eighth-ranked Lindsey Wilson College pays a visit. The two teams were originally scheduled to play on the opening weekend of the season, but inclement weather has forced the twinbill to be rescheduled three times.