OREM — Late-inning drama filled the afternoon as Utah Valley University and Brigham Young University played to a split in the first day of a Pacific Coast Softball Conference series Friday at Wolverine Field. After BYU scraped out a 2-1, extra-inning win in game one, UVU's Debra Lovell played hero in game two with a walk-off homer for a 6-4 Wolverine win.
"Debra came up big," UVU head coach Rachel Hartgrove said. "This team has some of the best fight we've ever had at Utah Valley. When it gets to two outs and our backs are against the wall, we've found a way to come through. Debra's hit was indicative of that."
After suffering a game one loss in eight innings, the Wolverines (13-3, 6-4 PCSC) appeared to have game two all but locked up when it entered the seventh inning with a 4-1 lead. Pitcher Josi Summers, who had held the Cougars (15-19, 5-1) to just one run on three hits to that point, quickly retired the first batter of the inning on a foul out.
Pinch-hitter Jenna Goar kept BYU's comeback chances alive with a single through the left side, but Summers was able to retire JC Clayton on a fly out in the next at-bat.
Down to their last out, the Cougars' Lacey Millett rolled a routine ground ball toward shortstop. The game looked to be over as UVU's Krystin Jachim fielded the ball cleanly, but her throw to first skipped beneath the glove of first baseman Amanda Robinson.
The error kept BYU in the game and the Wolverines would pay for it almost immediately as right fielder Gordy Bravo mashed an 0-1 pitch over the wall to knot the game at 4-4.
Tiffany Mills took over in the circle in a pitching change and retired Katie Manuma, but the damage was done as the Cougars suddenly held the late-game momentum.
In the bottom half of the inning, UVU found itself down to just one out after Robinson struck out and Kylee Brinkerhoff grounded out. Jachim, atoning for her miscue in the top half, singled up the middle as the Wolverines pushed for a two-out rally.
Lovell, already with a single and an RBI to her credit, came to the plate and patiently waited out BYU pitcher Katie Manuma. With the count at 3-1, Lovell finally got her pitch and drove it beyond the fencing in center field, lifting UVU to a 6-4 walk-off victory.
It was the second walk-off win in as many weeks for the Wolverines as Robinson accomplished the feat last Saturday. In that game, the junior blasted a three-run shot in the bottom of the seventh as UVU claimed a 3-1 win over CSU Bakersfield.
The home run was Lovell's fourth on the season as she finished the game at 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Jachim went 2-for-4 to go along with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the third. Mills (10-8) picked up the win after suffering a complete game loss in the day's first game.
Game one required extra innings as the two teams took a 1-1 deadlock into the eighth inning. The Cougars opened the frame with a walk to Alexandra Hudson-Shamo. Mills was able to retire the next two batters, each of whom Lacey Millett — pinch running for Shamo — up a base.
With a runner on third and needing just one out, Mills got third baseman Ashlee Robinson to lift a lazy line drive toward shallow right field. Second baseman Dynasty Lauvai ranged back while right fielder Morgan Summers charged forward, but in a moment of miscommunication the ball ricocheted off the glove of Summers and fell innocently onto the outfield grass between the two players. The error allowed Millett to come home, scoring the eventual winning run.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Wolverines got a two-out double from Jachim into left field to keep their comeback chances alive, but Lovell went down looking in the ensuing at-bat to end the game.
UVU's lone RBI in the game came off the bat of Jamie North, who singled up the middle in the bottom of the fourth to score Lauvai from second. North would finish 1-for-3 for the game.
Three Wolverines posted two hits in the ballgame, as Robinson and Jachim went 2-for-4 while Lauvai finished 2-for-3 at the dish.
Utah Valley and BYU will play two more Saturday at Wolverine Field, with the doubleheader getting underway at 1 p.m.
"This is a huge series for both teams with us sitting one-two in the conference standings," Hartgrove said. "BYU is the team to beat. They were picked to win it all and with a win today we're still in a good spot to keep pace with them."
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company