Robert Morris swept by Akron in home-opener doubleheader


Taylor Rhinehart jacks a three-run homer in the first inning of the second game against Akron. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

Kevin Plowcha

MOON TOWNSHIP– Robert Morris (14-9, 3-0 Horizon) looked to extend their three-game winning streak as they took on the Akron Zips (6-18, 1-2 MAC) Tuesday afternoon at the North Athletic Complex.

GAME 1: Zips 7, Colonials 2

W: Lexie Petrof 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4K
L: Madison DeVault 5.2 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 3K

Both teams started off scoreless through one inning. A double by Erika Bell threatened to break the ice early, but Akron pitcher Lexie Petrof struck out Taylor Rhinehart to end the first inning.

Madison DeVault pitched for RMU in game one and faced the minimum through two innings. The Colonials took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after Jess Matheny hit an RBI double.

Akron answered in the top of the 3rd as Lexi Campbell hit an RBI double of her own, tying the game at one.

After a scoreless bottom half of the 3rd inning by Robert Morris, Akron took the lead in the top of the 4th from an Atlantis Taufa RBI single. The Zips would keep their foot on the gas pedal, “zipping” ahead of RMU after a Morgan Cadmus 3-run HR to straightaway center field.

The Colonials threatened to cut into the deficit but left two runners on base in the bottom of the 4th inning. After four innings, RMU trailed 5-1.

The Zips extended their lead to six runs after a two-run home run by shortstop Jaiden Bryant. RMU could not cut into the deficit, stranding a runner at second base, and trailed 7-1 after six innings.

Despite their best efforts, the Colonials scored just one run in the bottom of the seventh inning and dropped the first game.

GAME 2: Zips 9, Colonials 4

W: Emily Farlin 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 K

L: Rachael Rhinehart 0.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 ER

Jane Garver started game two on the mound for RMU and immediately sat down the first three Akron batters.

The Colonials would take an early 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to a Taylor Rhinehart three-run home run to left field, her fourth of the season. Rhinehart recently earned Horizon League Player of the Week honors.

Head coach Jexx Varner spoke on the recent impact that Rhinehart has had.

“She’s done really well over the last five games,” Varner said. “We gave her an off day during the Seattle series to clear her head and reset, and I think it really showed. She came back ready to rock and definitely earned that player of the week award.”

Both teams were held scoreless for the second inning with the only action being a base hit by Akron.

The Zips knocked a runner to second in the top of the third inning, but couldn’t take advantage of it. RMU went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 3rd inning but still maintained their 3-0 lead.

Jane Garver continued her solid performance on the mound through the fourth inning, sending down each of the Akron batters in order.

RMU could not pad their lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, but still led 3-0.

In the top of the fifth, Rachael Rhinehart came in to pitch for Garver, who finished the day with four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits.

The Zips immediately took advantage as Carley Auten crushed a solo HR to left field on the first pitch Rhinehart threw, cutting RMU’s lead to 3-1.

Akron continued to find ways to score on Rhinehart. A Madison Dudek RBI fielder’s choice cut the deficit to just one run and an RBI single by Angela Cirone tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fifth inning.

After another walk by Rhinehart, the bases were loaded with just one out. Garver was re-entered into the game as the pitcher.

Head coach Jexx Varner talked about the decision to remove Garver.

“We had a game plan; trying to make sure we plan accordingly for the weekend,” Varner said. “We didn’t necessarily want to burn her out in a midweek series for a UIC game, whether that’s Friday or Saturday, and ultimately it bit us in the butt.”

A bases-loaded walk by Garver gave Akron their first lead, 4-3, before a grand slam by Jaiden Bryant broke the game wide open, giving the Zips an 8-3 lead after the top of the fifth, capping off an eight-run inning for Akron.

The Colonials continued to fight and scored one run in the bottom of the fifth inning on an RBI single by Erika Bell, cutting the deficit to 8-4.

A scoreless top of the sixth inning by Garver kept Akron’s lead at four runs.

RMU could not get much of anything going in the bottom of the sixth inning, keeping the score at 8-4 heading into the seventh.

Dana Vatakis came in to pitch the top of the seventh inning but gave up one run, allowing Akron to extend their lead to 9-4.

RMU got a runner on base, but the rally fell short in the seventh inning, losing 9-4 to Akron in game 2 of the doubleheader.

The Colonials travel to the “Windy City” for a series against UIC that starts on Friday, March 25. Jexx Varner talked post-game about how the team can rebound for the three-game road swing.

“It’s a fresh start, and it’s us being able to step up against someone who last year we split with,” Varner said. “We’ve got something to go out there and prove, and we know what we’re trying to do in the Horizon League. We can still have a winning week.”