Utah Valley University managed to outlast CSU Bakersfield in a WAC Tournament elimination game on Thursday night by scoring four runs in the ninth to defeat CSUB by a score of 6-3 in extra innings in Las Cruces.
"I am very proud of the perseverance that the team showed tonight. It takes a lot of courage to be in those situations, and a lot of determination and fight to pull through them. I'm proud of the girls for continuing to find a way to deliver in the clutch," WAC Coach of the Year TJ Hubbard said. "It was a team effort again for us, but I was particularly proud of both Linnah Rebolledo and Kaylee Bott's performances tonight. We also had some strong contributions in pinch-hit roles off of the bench, and I'm very pleased with how all of the girls performed."
Freshman Linnah Rebolledo led the way for UVU by going 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI and two runs scored, while both Skylar Cook and Kaylee Bott each went 3-for-5 with a run scored apiece. Bott, Basia Query and Kirsten Andersen also hit home runs for the Wolverines in the game, and Cook tied the UVU single-season stolen base school record with her 24th stolen bag on the year.
With UVU holding a 2-1 lead in the last of the seventh, fifth-seeded CSUB (6-38) managed to string together back-to-back-to-back two-out singles from Cydney Curran, Evelyn Mendoza and Johnson to tie the game at 2-2. Johnson's two-out single up the middle capped the rally and drove in Curran from second to deadlock the game and send the contest to extra innings.
Utah Valley then got a leadoff hit from Taleigh Williams in the top of the eighth, but CSUB's Summer Evans pitched out of the jam thanks to an inning-ending double play to keep the game tied at 2-all.
After holding the 'Runners scoreless in the last of the eighth, the Wolverine offense then got things going in the top of the ninth by scoring four runs on five hits to take a 6-2 extra-inning lead. After back-to-back-to-back singles from Rebolledo, Brianna Moeller and Cook to load the bases with nobody out, Rebolledo then scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch to give UVU a 3-2 lead. Senior Kirsten Andersen then followed by driving in Moeller with a single up the middle to make it 4-2. After an intentional walk to first-team all-WAC performer Lyndsay Steverson to again load the bases, Query followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2. Bott later followed with an RBI single to center to cap the scoring and give the Wolverines a 6-2 lead heading into the last of the ninth.
In the bottom of the ninth, Bakersfield then managed to push across an unearned run on a UVU defensive miscue with two away to make it 6-3 and extend the ballgame. With runners later leading from first and second for the Roadrunners and the tying runner at the plate in Arianna Felix, UVU's Addie Jensen ended the threat and the ballgame by drawing a game-ending fielder's choice to seal the 6-3 nine-inning victory.
Jensen earned the victory in relief for the Wolverines to improve to 11-11 on the year after giving up just one earned run in three innings of action. Summer Evans (1-22) suffered the loss for the 'Runners after allowing five earned runs in 8.1 innings of work.
Earlier in the game, the Wolverines were the first to get on the scoreboard by pushing across an unearned run in the top of the third inning to jump out to a 1-0 lead. After Rebolledo and the WAC Freshman of the Year Peyton Angulo reached by a respective single and a fielder's choice, Steverson reached on a two-out error on CSUB's first baseman to score Rebolledo and give UVU the one-run advantage.
Utah Valley then tacked on its second run of the game in the top of the fourth to extend its lead to 2-0. Bott started the fourth-inning rally with a leadoff triple and later came in to score on a sacrifice fly from the freshman Rebolledo. The RBI marked Rebolledo's first of the season and first of her collegiate career.
The 'Runners answered back with a run of their own in the in the last of the fourth to again make it a one-run game at 2-1. After a UVU throwing error, CSUB's Ariana Acedo drove home Chris Hipa with a two-out RBI single through the right side for an unearned run for Bakersfield.
CSUB again threatened in the last of the fifth by loading the bases with two away, but the WAC Pitcher of the Year Makayla Shadle pitched out of the jam by getting Paige Johnson to fly out to right and keep it a 2-1 game.
The Wolverines then held the 2-1 lead until the seventh when CSUB tied the game in the bottom of the frame and send the contest to extra frames.
The contest marked Utah Valley's second of the day, as it previously dropped a 7-4 decision to No. 6 UMKC earlier on Thursday.
With Thursday night's victory, UVU now advances to face GCU on Friday at 4 p.m. MT. The winner of the contest will advance to play either No. 1 New Mexico State or No. 6 UMKC at 7 p.m., with a trip to the WAC Tournament championship series on the line.
James Warnick is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information about Wolverine athletics, visit GoUVU.com.