For the third time this season Jacksonville has entered into the final inning with a lead against Florida Gulf Coast and for the third time they have left with a loss. Trailing 4-2 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Eagles plated two runs to force extra innings and then completed the comeback in the eighth when Chelsea Zgrabik hit a walk-off grand slam to give FGCU the 8-4 win.
The Dolphins were in control of the game the whole afternoon up until the seventh inning.
The JU batters jumped on the 2012 Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year Shelby Morgan early scoring two quick runs in the first. Karson Tuck came through for JU with a two RBI single. The Dolphins were able to add two more runs off of Morgan in the third and fifth to push their total up to four.
Sarah Sigrest made the start for JU and had a solid outing. In three and two thirds innings she allowed just three hits and struck out four. She allowed one run off of a towering solo home run by Mariah Fernandez in the bottom of the third inning.
In the bottom of the fourth with JU nursing a 3-1 lead and two runners on, Brittany Eppley replaced Sigrest and promptly struck out the batter she faced for the third out of the inning.
Ronnie Gajownik homered in the top of the fifth to push JU’s lead up to three as they now led 4-1.
The Eagles were able to counter in the bottom half of the inning. With two outs, a single up the middle scored a runner from second who was just able to beat the throw from center field.
Neither team was able to score in the sixth and the Dolphins were retired in order in the top of the seventh. The Dolphins entered the bottom of the seventh with a two run lead and were only three outs away from advancing into the next round of the tournament.
Much like the previous two matchups, the Eagles saved their best hitting for when it mattered the most. Emily Lanier led off the inning with a single and then was pinch run for. A wild pitch allowed the runner to advance to second. After a popup for the first out of the inning, FGCU got another single to give them runners on first and third. A clutch single through the right side cut JU’s lead to just one run. Eppley was then able to get another batter to pop up leaving the Dolphins just one out away from the win. With a runner on second, a single up the middle created a play at the plate. Ouellet fielded the ball and fired home to catcher Sarah Simon, but she could not handle the throw and the tying run scored sending the game to extra innings.
In the top of the eighth, JU went down in order and set the stage for FGCU to complete the improbable comeback. After a double, a fielder’s choice in which no outs were recorded, and a single loaded the bases, the Eagles Zgrabiak stepped up to the plate and belted Eppley’s pitch out of the park for the walk off win.
JU will now look to keep its title hopes alive as they take on Kennesaw State in an elimination game that will start at approximately 6:15 pm.