In a see-saw Lone Star Conference doubleheader at Pioneer Field on Saturday, both TWU and Angelo State showed plenty of resolve when matching each other’s scoring spurts.
With the Rambelles claiming the first game 9-7 in eight innings, the Pioneers rebounded with home runs from Jordan Readicker and Lizzy Kelly in the rubber match, winning 8-4 to earn the series victory.
“It’s extremely hard to sweep anybody in this conference, especially Angelo State,” TWU head coach Richie Bruister said. “We knew it was going to be a battle all weekend and that’s what we got. We gutted it out again. They worked hard, played for each other, and it took being mentally tough in the third game. That’s what wins these games in conference.”
The Pioneers (36-10, 14-4) jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a run in the first and second innings. After a forgettable first game, Readicker got back on track with an RBI fielder’s choice in the first to give the Pioneers the 1-0 lead. Bailey Vrazel’s RBI single in the second made it 2-0.
“I talked to J-Read in between games,” Bruister said. “We talked about her swing, and I told her, ‘We need you.’ That’s what we got. We got timely hitting in spots where we needed it. They continue to do the little things and outwork their opponent.”
Just as they did in the first game, the Rambelles fought back, taking a 3-2 lead with three runs in the third inning off a double by Lauren Smith, a single by Rachel Moore and a groundout by Lanie Robinson.
The Pioneers replied in the bottom half with Readicker’s 15th home run of the season to tie it at 3-3. Haley Colwell singled to set up Kelly’s two-run home run to deep center field, giving the Pioneers the lead at 5-3. Amanda Ruiz later added an RBI infield single for TWU’s fourth run of the inning, giving the Pioneers a 6-3 cushion.
After starter Karissa Hartwig gave up two runs in the third and Hines allowed a leadoff double and a walk to start the fourth, Brandie Lander earned her 16th victory of the season as she finished the final four innings by striking out four while keeping the Rambelles (26-14, 11-7) from climbing back into the game.
“We’ve got complete confidence in Brandie,” Bruister said. “She threw well the first game, we just had some unearned runs and you can’t do that against a good ballclub. She’s a winner and you can see it in her eyes. It was a long day, and she was still going strong after six hours.”
Moore added a sacrifice RBI in the fourth inning to draw Angelo State to 6-4, but TWU scored two more runs in the bottom half of the inning as Ashley Maddox’s sacrifice fly made it 7-4. Kelly, who reached on a fielder’s choice, later stole third base and scored to make it 8-4 on a throwing error.
Despite Hines’ 3-for-4, four-RBI performance, Angelo State rode home runs from Easley, Moore and Dunn to claim the 9-7 victory in Game 1 to even the series.
The Pioneers’ offense squeezed five earned runs off starting pitcher Mary Kate McKay, but the Rambelles also got to TWU starter Larisa Garcia for six runs — two of them earned.
After a scoreless first and second inning, Hines broke the game open in the third inning with a three-run double to the right-field fence, and Kelly followed with an RBI double that found an open spot in left field, allowing Hines to score and give the Pioneers the 4-0 lead.
It didn’t take Angelo State long to respond as they equaled TWU’s four-run third inning with a four-run fourth inning.
Moore led off the inning with an infield hit, and Morgan Spearman and Robinson both singled to center field. Ruiz had trouble with the play in center field, and Moore was able to score to put the Rambelles on the board at 4-1. Then, Darian Dunn evened the score at 4-4 with a three-run homer to left field.
The Rambelles dipped from the home run well again with a two-run shot from Moore to take the lead at 6-4.
With both teams showing resolve and patience in the midst of the others’ rebuttals, Hines led off the fifth inning with a solo home run to right field for her 21st of the year to draw the Pioneers to within 6-5. Later in the inning, Sarah Wittenburg put TWU back in front at 7-6 with a two-out, two-run single through the left side of the infield.
After tying the game at 7-7 with an RBI sacrifice fly by Moore in the sixth, it was the Rambelles who spoke last as Kacie Easley’s eighth-inning two-run homer to center field gave Angelo State the crucial 9-7 advantage.
In the bottom of the eighth, TWU threatened to send the game to the ninth after Vrazel walked to start the inning and Hines reached on a single, but Serna, who earned her 17th win of the season, shut down Readicker with a strikeout, and Kendra Sancet fouled out after a long at-bat to end the game.
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873.
ANGELO STATE 9, TWU 7
WP – Sandra Serna (17-3). LP – Brandie Lander (15-5). 2B – A: Darian Dunn. T: Katie Hines, Lizzy Kelly. HR – A: Kacie Easley, Rachel Moore, Dunn. T: Hines.
TWU 8, ANGELO STATE 4
WP – Brandie Lander (16-5). LP – Mary Kate McKay (8-9). 2B – A: Kacie Easley, Lauren Smith, April Breshears, Darian Dunn. HR -- T: Jordan Readicker, Lizzy Kelly.