Potent offense, strong pitching leads to a split for Robert Morris

Madison+Riggle+rips+an+RBI+single+in+RMU%27s+game+two+win.+She+pitched+five+scoreless+innings+in+the+victory+while+also+contributing+an+RBI.+Photo+Credit%3A+Tyler+Gallo

Madison Riggle rips an RBI single in RMU’s game two win. She pitched five scoreless innings in the victory while also contributing an RBI. Photo Credit: Tyler Gallo

By Tyler Gallo, Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP– The softball team returned to Moon for its first home games and Horizon League conference games by hosting a twin bill with Detroit Mercy on Friday afternoon.

While the Colonials’ (6-4, 1-1 Horizon) offense fell short in the first game, scoring early and often in the second game against the Titans (1-1, 1-1) led to a split of the day, dropping game one in extra innings 3-1 and winning 8-0 via the mercy rule in game two.

Head coach Jexx Varner spoke about the team’s performance in the first game.

“If we executed better in the first game, cleaning up the walks and errors, we aren’t in a position to lose that one,” Varner said. “I give credit to [Liz Murphy], she’s a great pitcher who singlehandedly pitched them to a conference championship two years ago. If we execute better, we win.”

GAME 1: Titans 3, Colonials 1 (F/9)

Dana Vatakis (3-1, 2.59 ERA) opposed Liz Murphy in game one. Vatakis’ afternoon got off to a wonderful start, striking out the first two batters she faced and inducing a soft groundout for the third out of the opening inning.

After the pitchers traded zeroes and five strikeouts heading into the bottom of the fourth, it was the Colonials who broke the ice.

Natalie Higgins smoked a double off the right-field wall, and after a pop-out and a groundout, pinch-runner Julia Ehrman came around to score on an RBI single that eluded the glove of Piper Roth to give the Colonials a 1-0 lead.

The Titans threatened in the top of the sixth, loading the bases and getting a run via a groundout to tie the game. Vatakis bent but did not break in this inning, inducing an inning-ending groundout.

While the teams exchanged chances in the late innings, no one could score, and game one headed to extra innings.

The ninth inning was not as kind to Robert Morris as it started with a single by Alyssa Lang. She was replaced by a pinch-runner, who was sacrificed to second and made it to third on a wild pitch. Allison Smith cranked a two-run shot over the right-field wall to give Detroit Mercy a lead they would not lose, winning the first game of the doubleheader 3-1.

Vatakis allowed just two earned runs and struck out seven, stymying the Titans until the ninth. Varner praised her performance in the loss.

“Dana did everything you could ask a pitcher to do in that game, she gave us a chance to win,” he said. “The little things cost her that game, but she gave us a chance to win.”

GAME 2: Colonials 8, Titans 0 F/5

Madison Riggle (1-1, 4.71) took the pitching circle for the second game while Regan Glenn was on the bump for Detroit Mercy.

Glenn did not fare as well as her game one counterpart, allowing three runs in the bottom of the first. She gave up a pair of walks before allowing an RBI single to Riggle and a two-run single to Erika Bell, giving the Colonials an early 3-0 lead. A sacrifice fly by Natalie Higgins in the second inning added an insurance run for the Colonials.

The Colonials were not done, pouring it on in the fourth. Charlotte Grover had an RBI double and Higgins added two more RBI on a single, stretching the Colonials’ lead to seven.

All the Colonials needed was one more run to seal the victory, and that came on the strength of an RBI double to the wall by pinch-hitter Avery Winchell as the mercy rule came into effect with RMU notching their first Horizon League win.

Game three of four will start at 1 p.m. tomorrow.