Ding Dong: Erika Bell’s go-ahead home run pushes Robert Morris past Cleveland State

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Erika Bell rounds the bases after hitting a go-ahead solo homerun in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Colonials a 7-6 lead over Cleveland State. Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

By Ethan Morrison, Assistant Sports Editor

MOON TOWNSHIP— After dropping both games of the doubleheader yesterday, Robert Morris looked to salvage the final game against Cleveland State on Sunday.

They did just that, coming back from down four runs midway through the game to win the final game of the series 7-6.

Despite the victory, it was another rough start for RMU in this series as Jane Garver hit the first batter she faced.

Following the hit batter, Maggie Kusmits laced a ball toward Charlotte Grover and it hit off her glove and went into center field, which allowed Jenna Deang to score to give the Vikings an early one-run lead.

With runners on second and third, Cleveland State could not tack on any more runs in the opening frame as Garver worked out of a jam to keep it a one-run ball game.

After the game, head coach Jexx Varner discussed the team’s struggles early on.

“There is a multitude of things that we have to clean up on multiple levels and unfortunately, it been something that has been happening to us for the past 13 games,” he said. “Half the time, we have let them start fast and we have to make adjustments in the field and in the circle to fix that so we don’t put so much pressure on ourselves.”

In the bottom half of the inning, Alania Koutsogiani worked a leadoff walk but was thrown out at second trying to steal. Anna Resnik worked a walk of her own and Erika Bell smacked a double into the alley to knot the game up at one, scoring Resnik from first.

In the top half of the second, the inconsistent strike zone from the home plate umpire afflicted Garver, which allowed Cleveland State to retake the lead after Deang singled down the line. Kusmits followed with a single of her own to extend the lead to two.

Melissa Holzopfel did quick work of RMU, setting down the first two batters, but Bailee Bertani started the two-out rally singling up the middle. Then, Alaina York singled to advance Bertani to second and Koutsogiani singled into right to score Bertani to chip away at the CSU lead.

Errors and walks continued to plague the Colonials as the game went on and that allowed Cleveland State to extend their lead to four runs after Deang hit a two-run single. Dana Vatakis came in to replace Garver after a disappointing outing, working out of the jam in the top half of the third as the Viking lead remained at four runs.

The Colonials would not go down without a fight as they cut the lead in half. Charlotte Grover hit a two-run shot to make the score 6-4 and Robert Morris trailed by just two runs at the end of the third inning.

Varner spoke on the resiliency of his club being down four runs midway through the game.

“This is something that we experienced early in the year against Winthrop and Albany,” Varner said. “Those were games that we were down and we were able to come back, so it’s just the belief that they can come back and they can handle it and be able to work their way back.”

In the bottom half of the fourth, Robert Morris continued to chip away as a Bell single scored Resnik to make it a one-run ballgame. The Colonials could not tie the game up as Grover lined out to second to end the inning.

Vatakis made quick work of the Vikings in the fifth, facing one more than the minimum in the inning, striking out one.

Robert Morris threatened to tie the game up in the bottom half of the inning, putting two runners on with one out, but York lined out to the third baseman with one out and Bertani promptly got doubled up at first to end the inning.

After another clean inning from Vatakis, the Colonials came up to the dish down by one, but that deficit did not last for long as Koutsogiani went yard to tie up the game at six apiece on the first pitch delivered by Torrie Jenkins. With two outs, Bell hit a moonshot to deep right field to give Robert Morris their first lead of the game.

Cleveland State threatened to knot the game up with a runner on third base in the top of the seventh, but some great defensive plays by the Colonial defense thwarted the comeback effort.

Overall, the Colonials scored seven runs on 11 hits and committed four errors. Three players for Robert Morris went deep, which was the difference.

For Cleveland State, they scored six runs on seven hits and committed one error.

Robert Morris is back in action when they hit the road to take on Northern Kentucky Friday at 4 p.m.