Brevard, N.C. - The Tornados and the Crusaders split their Friday afternoon doubleheader with North Greenville taking the first game in extra innings, 3-2, while Brevard came back and took the second game behind the pitching of Liz Houser, 1-0. The Tornados suffer their first loss of the 2009 season as they move to 5-1, while North Greenville wins their first game of the season in moving to 1-7.
Game 1: North Greenville 3, Brevard 2 (8)
Jennifer Gift (2-1) threw her third complete game of the season, allowing three runs, two earned, while striking out four, but she was matched by the Crusader starter Kristyn Smith who also went the distance, allowing two unearned runs while striking out nine.
Beth Brooker and Jennifer Brown each drove in runs for the Tornados in game one. Lindsey Eargle paced the Crusaders offense, going 3-4 with a pair of RBIs.
North Greenville got on the board first, scoring in the top of the first as Hope Brewer led off the game with a double to left centerfield. A single by Eargle to right scored Brewer as the Crusaders went up 1-0.
Brevard tied the game up in the bottom of the second as Katie Thornburg led off the inning with a single up the middle. A sacrifice bunt by Brooker moved her over to second, then after a Kasey Fagan strikeout, Thornburg advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring on Jennifer Brown’s single through the right side of the infield.
From there, the defenses and pitchers took over as Katie Brown made two spectacular catches for the Tornados from her catcher position, running into the fence both times to record outs, while Smith went through the Tornado lineup, allowing three baserunners in five innings.
In the top of the eighth, with Brewer on second, Lindsey Eargle singled, and moved to third during a series of throws that resulted in Brewer scoring from second. A flyball to right off the bat of Lauren Vick scored Eargle, giving the Crusaders a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Tornados attempted to come back, as Thornburg drew a walk with two outs, while Becca Curlee stole third. A ball hit by Brooker glanced off the glove of Smith, scoring Curlee from third, but Thornburg was caught trying to go from first to third on a ball that did not leave the infield, ending game one in favor of the Crusaders, 3-2.
Game 2: Brevard 1, North Greenville 0
Liz Houser (3-0) won her third consecutive start and recorded her second shutout of the 2009 season as she went all seven innings, scattering five hits while setting down five Crusaders on strikes. Crusaders starter Taylor Roof nearly matched her, with only an unearned run given up in the fifth inning spoiling her start.
Brooker went 2-3 to lead the Tornados in game two, while Brewer went 2-4 for the Crusaders.
Brewer opened up game two with a single for the Crusaders, and North Greenville put two on with one out in the first inning, but Houser was able to dig deep and strike out Alison Bailey looking, and getting Whitney Center to pop out to Kristina Clayton at shortstop to end the inning.
The Crusaders loaded the bases in the top of the second, but a fly ball to left field off the bat of Eargle stranded all three runners, while Brevard came up empty after loading the bases in the bottom of the fourth as Curlee grounded out to second for the final out of the inning.
Houser mowed through the lineup, putting the Crusaders down in order in the top of the fifth, paving the way for Brevard to punch across the only run of the contest.
With two outs, Chelsi Mallory was moved to second on Brooker’s single through the left side of the infield. Mallory scored from second the next batter as Fagan’s grounder to third was misplayed by the Crusader third baseman, as she bounced her throw to first, putting the Tornados up 1-0.
With the sun setting, the Crusaders came up in the top of the seventh looking for an answer, but Houser was able to get Krista Laird to ground out to short, and Jessica Turner and Brewer to foul out to Katie Brown at the backstop, with Katie again crashing into the backstop, as she clutched the last out to end the game, 1-0.
Brevard takes to the road as they head to Black Mountain, N.C. for a doubleheader with Montreat College on Saturday, February 21st. First pitch for the games between the Tornados and Cavaliers is set for 1 p.m. North Greenville stays on the road as they take on Southern Wesleyan also on Saturday at 1 p.m.