SALEM, Va. — St. Thomas exploded for five runs over the first four innings, as the Tommies knocked off Muskingum 7-4 in the final contest of second-day action at the NCAA Division III National Championship.
The Tommies jumped on top in the first off of Louisville Slugger/NFCA first-team all-American Erica Hoyt. Katie Weiberg led off the inning with a single and advanced to second as Kathleen Fitzpatrick was hit by a pitch. Freshman Carrie Embree loaded the bases with a single before a sacrifice fly by all-American Michelle Wong and a single by Kaja Martinson plated Wiberg and Fitzpatrick.
St. Thomas tacked on another run to make it 3-0 in the third as Fitzpatrick delivered a base hit up the middle to score Ashley Carlblom who walked and advanced to third on a pair of Hoyt wild pitches.
The Muskies cut into the lead with a run in their half of the third as Lindsay Bramhall lofted a sacrifice to left field that scored Erin Zupko who led off the inning with a single two batters earlier with a single. The Tommies answered with a pair of runs in the fourth. Nikki Conway walked, advanced on a Muskingum error and scored on a passed ball, and Janet Nagle helped her own cause with a two-out double off Andrea Crowe, in relief of Hoyt, that scored Kaja Martinson.
Nagle found trouble in the fourth as she issued a trio of free passes to load the bases with one out. Zupko delivered a single that scored the pinch runner Carpenter, but the Muskies left the bases full as Nagle settled down and struck out fellow all-Americans Jellison and Nicole Blubaugh to end the threat.
Muskingum wasn’t done, however, as a key two-out single by Tackett scored Jenna Rayman and Jen Shay to cut the Tommies’ lead to 6-4. Waage, however, came in and allowed just three Muskies to reach base over the final two and two thirds.
Martinson, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, answered the Muskies’ rally as Martinson tied the school record for home runs in a season with her 11th round-tripper of the year, a solo shot, to take the lead to 7-4.
Nagle picked up the win as she went four and a third and allowed four runs on six hits. Freshman Emily Waage picked up the save, allowing just two hits in two and two-thirds innings of work. Hoyt suffered the loss, going five and a third and giving up five runs, only three earned, with six strikeouts.
Muskingum will face Chapman in an elimination contest Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EDT. St. Thomas advances to face Moravian in the 5 p.m. EDT game Sunday.
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