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Muskingum Keeps National Championship Hopes Alive by Eliminating Linfield

RALEIGH, N.C. -- No. 2-ranked Muskingum bounced back again in the elimination bracket to send Linfield home after a 2-1 loss and keep its national championship hopes alive. 

Against Ithaca, Muskingum capitalized on two Bomber first inning errors to score six unearned runs and take control of the game. Junior first baseman Amy Iammarino and sophomore shortstop Jamie Echelberger each had two-run singles and sophomore Heather Fields added an RBI double to highlight the Muskie offensive eruption. Muskingum tacked on another run in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by sophomore catcher Kari Hoying and senior second baseman Juli Johnston to take a 7-1 lead. Fields provided more insurance in the sixth with a solo home run to left field. The long ball was her fifth of the season. The Black and Magenta completed the scoring in the seventh on Johnston's second RBI double of the contest. 

"It was great to see us bounce back like that. We made a statement in the first inning. We beat a very good team by a large margin," said Head Coach Donna Newberry. 

Fields ended the game 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs, while Johnston went 2-for4 with two RBI and a run and Hoying added two hits and one run scored. 

Freshman hurler Amy Mattin earned the win in relief of senior pitcher Erica Hoyt. Mattin tossed 4.2 innings and allowed two hits with two strikeouts for her 19th win. 

The game was scoreless through the fifth inning, when Heather Fields connected on her sixth home run of the year to give the Muskies a 1-0 lead. Muskingum then took advantage of two Linfield miscues to score another run and bump its lead to 2-0. 

Linfield threatened in the bottom of the seventh, trimming the deficit to 2-1. Amy Hammons singled to center to start the inning, but Muskingum starter Erica Hoyt fanned the next two hitters. Stephanie Rice then tripled to left field, scoring pinch runner Erin McCann. After a hit batter, Hoyt forced Shelly Steinke to ground out to end the threat and preserve the win. 

For the game, Hoyt fired a complete game six-hitter with seven strikeouts to move to 24-3. 

Muskingum finished with two runs on five hits, while Linfield had one run on six hits with two errors. 

"We really battled to get another opportunity to play St. Thomas again. It's nice to have a chance to show that we are a better team than we were the first time we played them," said Muskingum head coach Donna Newberry. 

That chance will come tomorrow at noon, as Muskingum will face St. Thomas forr the second time in the tournament; the first meeting resulted in a 13-2 dominating win by the Tommies. The winner of that game will have to beat Rutgers-Camden twice to take the title, the first of which will happen tomorrow at 2:30 p.m.