LOS ANGELES — In a pair of one-run, pitching-dominated contests, Utah Valley University and Loyola Marymount played to a doubleheader split Saturday at Smith Field. LMU took the first game of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference series 2-1 in 10 innings and UVU grabbed a 1-0 win in game two with its lone run coming in the seventh inning.
Another twin bill awaits both teams Sunday. The battle for second place in the final PCSC standings begins at 1 p.m. MT.
Senior Kylee Brinkerhoff paced the Wolverines (35-18, 14-8) at the plate, going a combined 3-for-7 with a triple, a double and two runs scored.
"It was a difficult day offensively for both teams," head coach Rachel Hartgrove said. "I thought our pitching was excellent all day, it's just disappointing not to have two wins to show for it. Also, Brinkerhoff had a great day leading us at the plate and scoring both of our runs."
Offense was limited all day, but after suffering a disappointing 10-inning loss in game one, it was UVU that came through with the contest's only run in game two. With zeroes still showing on the scoreboard entering the seventh inning, Brinkerhoff led things off with a double to keep her season-high 12 game hit streak intact. A groundout from Charlee Cisneros pushed Brinkerhoff to third where she would come home to score in the ensuing at-bat. Catcher Jamie North slapped a ground ball toward second base, sending Brinkerhoff charging home. The senior beat the throw for the decisive run, giving North the day's only RBI for the Wolverines and LMU (31-23, 14-8) pitcher Dana Waldusky (9-17) her lone blemish on the afternoon.
On the flip side, Josi Summers (13-6) notched her third straight win in blanking the Lions. The sophomore pitched all seven innings and allowed six hits while striking out four. LMU's best scoring chance came in the fifth inning when back-to-back batsmen hit and a single loaded the bases with only one out. Still, Summers escaped the jam with a strikeout of Hannah Montalban and getting Meghan Harman to ground into a fielder's choice.
The day's trend of stifling pitching was established early in game one as the Wolverines and Lions needed 10 innings to settle another low-scoring affair. Each side tallied in the second inning to establish a 1-1 tie, but another run would not be seen for the next 42 outs as the ballgame stretched all the way into the 10th frame with the same score line.
Stealing the show was LMU's Sydney Gouveia (17-4). The true freshman was nearly untouchable in the circle, throwing all 10 innings and striking out a remarkable 22 batters. She did not allow an earned run in that time and surrendered just five hits.
"We worked hard all week to prepare for Gouveia, but obviously that still wasn't enough," Hartgrove said. "She was absolutely lights out and you have to give all the credit to her. It was a shame because Tiffany (Mills) threw one of her best games of the year. I thought we had chances to win game one, but Gouveia was just that good."
Four of those five UVU hits came from the senior duo of Brinkerhoff and Amanda Robinson. Each going 2-for-4 in the contest, Brinkerhoff scored the Wolverines' only run in the second inning. After tripling to begin the frame, she was able to scoot home on a passed ball in the next at-bat. Morgan Summers provided the fifth hit, going 1-for-3 on the day.
Still, UVU's Tiffany Mills (17-12) was able to keep pace with her counterpart, finishing the game with just one earned run to her name on seven hits. Throwing 9.1 innings, Mills struck out eight Lions in the difficult loss.
With the international tiebreaker in effect, the series opener was eventually settled in the tenth inning. After the Wolverines came up empty in the top half, LMU got a walk-off hit from Danielle Smith to seal the 2-1 victory. Smith's one-out single into center field plated Stephanie Maciel, who had begun the inning on second base but was pushed to third on a sacrifice bunt from Nicole Clowdus.
Utah Valley and Loyola Marymount had entered the season's final conference series two games back of first-place BYU. However, the Cougars completed a series sweep of Saint Mary's on Saturday, thus clinching the conference crown and the accompanying NCAA automatic bid. As such, the Wolverines and Lions will now play for second place as the league season winds to a close Sunday.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.