Phoenix’s first-inning runs are kryptonite for Robert Morris; snap win streak


Meadow Sacadura readies for a pitch against Green Bay. Photo credit: Ethan Morrison

Michael Deemer

MOON TOWNSHIP– The red-hot Robert Morris softball team (25-13, 15-5 Horizon) was back in action at the North Athletic Complex, as they won their past seven in a row. On Monday, the top-seeded Colonials began their series against Green Bay (23-21, 11-7) with a doubleheader.

Game 1: Green Bay 3, Colonials 2

WP: Brittany Baneck, CG, 4 H, 2 ER, 8 SO

LP: Dana Vatakis, 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, ER, 6 SO

Senior Dana Vatakis was in the circle for the Colonials, but the Phoenix wasted no time attacking in the top of the first. Three consecutive hits by Green Bay’s Alicia Peter, Jadin Justman and Samantha Saloun put the Phoenix on the board first.

Anna Resnik dribbled a ball just a couple of feet beyond home plate in the bottom half of the first inning. Catcher Samantha Saloun threw the ball out of the reach of the first baseman’s glove as the ball went down the right-field line, advancing Resnik to third for the Colonials, but she was stranded there.

It was a pitcher’s duel from there neither Vatakis nor Green Bay’s Brittany Baneck allowed a hit until the fourth inning.

Erika Bell broke the ice with a triple, her second this season, which she later would score with a Charlotte Grover sacrifice fly to tie the game.

Meadow Sacadura hit her second home run in the bottom of the fifth inning, giving the Colonials a brief lead.

However, the Phoenix got their lead right back with a two-run, two-out triple by Gracie Peterson in the top of the sixth.

Head coach Jexx Varner talked about the lack of clutch hitting despite seeing some glimpses.

“I think we didn’t have enough of them. We had those moments getting ourselves a lead, but then we gave it back away,” he said. “We exchanged too many outs and moving along the basepaths instead of getting that base hit.”

Those would be the winning runs as Green Bay snapped the Colonial win streak.

Game 2: Green Bay 3, Colonials 2

WP: Abigail Gawlinski (7-5) 3.2 IP 3 H 1 R 0 ER 5 K

LP: Rachael Rhinehart (8-5) 0.1 IP 4 H 2 R 2 ER 1 BB

Game two started the same way game one did. The Phoenix began scoring right out of the gate. Three consecutive hits by Randi McKay, Samantha Saloun and Jadin Justman put two runs on the board in the top of the first.

Green Bay’s Lauren King had herself a game. She did not allow a baserunner until the fourth inning.

However, Rachael’s sister Taylor replaced her and was flawless for the Colonials pitching after pitching just a third of an inning. No hits until the fifth innings.

Coach Varner spoke on Rhinehart’s performance.

“She’s the best reliever in the conference for a reason,” Varner said. “Yeah, [we pulled Rachael] earlier than we thought, but [Taylor] can be lockdown with anybody. I was proud, especially since she hasn’t thrown in ten days or so it was good to see.”

In the next inning, Alaina Koutsogiani stole both second and third bases. After stealing third, Erika Bell knocked a single to score the speedy third baseman to cut the deficit in half.

After another Green Bay error in the same inning, Robert Morris loaded the bases with one out, but all three Colonial runners were left stranded after a fielder’s choice play at the plate and a strikeout.

In the top of the fifth, Green Bay got back on the board for the first time since the first with a dropped fly ball by Catalina Saxen scored Tiffany Gies to make it a two-run game.

RMU’s Avery Wichell doubled to begin the home half of the fifth and after a dribbler by Alaina Koutsogiani, a lousy throw would score Winchell from third.

However, it was too late as the Colonials could not rally. They fell in both games of the Monday doubleheader.

“I would rather lose [the winning streak] than in the conference tournament. We didn’t play well enough today,” Varner said. “That’s what it will come down to.”

The Colonials will play three games in two days on the road and will play the Golden Grizzlies of Oakland on Friday at 3 p.m. and a doubleheader on Saturday starting at 1.