Senior Jessica Stoelke's two-run double in the 11th inning proved to be the game winning hit as the No. 25-ranked Tulsa Golden Hurricane claimed a 9-7 victory over the 24th-ranked Oregon State Beavers in the first round of the NCAA Regional at Marita Hynes Field on Friday night. Tulsa's longest game of the year lasted 3 hours and 32 minutes finishing at 8:32 pm.
Tulsa advances to Saturday's winners bracket game against the winner of the No. 1 seed Oklahoma and No. 4 seed Lehigh. Game time will be at 1:00 pm.
Stoelke doubled just over Oregon State's third baseman Desiree Beltran to score Skylar Swanson and Lacey Middlebrooks for Tulsa's eighth and ninth runs of the game. Swanson began the inning with a double and Middlebrooks got on base with an infield single that bounced over OSU pitcher Paige Hall.
"Obviously it was very gratifying to pull that win out," Head Coach John Bargfeldt said. "My main message to the team was that I didn't recognize them today. We made so many mistakes, defensively and base running that I just didn't recognize them. How we played that last inning, that's the team I've been watching. Going after it, making outstanding plays, just two outstanding plays defensively in that last inning alone. The thing is today it was our hitting. We fought back and put runs on the board when we needed to because we were giving too many away."
Stoelke ended the game with two hits and two RBI, while the top four batters in the Tulsa lineup had 10 hits and seven RBI. Lead-off hitter Caitlin Everett had three hits and four RBI, Jill Barrett had two hits and one RBI, Samantha Cobb added two hits and Swanson ended the contest with three hits and two RBI.
"It's been a long time since I've gotten a hit in general," Stoekle said. "I think my last game-winning hit was against Central Arkansas. I came up with a clutch hit. Thank God we played good defense, but it's been a while."
For the game, Tulsa scored its 11 runs on 16 hits, while Oregon State scored its 7 runs on 12 hits. It was Tulsa's longest game of the year as the 11-inning contest surpassed the previous long of 10 innings against C-USA foe East Carolina in March.
It appeared that the Hurricane might end the contest in regulation. Tulsa held a 7-3 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh inning when Oregon State scored four runs to put the game into extra innings.
In OSU half of the seventh inning, the first three batters reached base. Erin Guzy doubled to center field scoring two runs and after a Lea Cavestany strike out, Desiree Beltran doubled in two more runs for the Beavers to tie the score at seven. Middlebrooks pitched out of the jam forcing the last two batters to ground out.
Tulsa sophomore Aimee Creger started the 8th inning on the mound in relief of Middlebrooks and struck out two batters before the Hurricane threw out OSU's Dani Gilmore at home plate trying to score from second base.
Creger went on to pitch four scoreless innings, facing 17 batters, allowing one hit and striking out six to earn her 19th win of the season.
The Hurricane threatened in each of the two innings before claiming the victory in the 11th.
In the ninth inning, Tulsa threatened with bases loaded and one out. Barrett and Cobb each singled, while Swanson's ground out moved the runners before a Middlebrooks walk loaded the bases. Julie Kernen was brought on to pinch-hit for Cassidy Bowen, but hit a sharp liner to OSU first baseman Erin Guzy who tagged out Middlebrooks trying to get back to first base to end Tulsa's threat.
The Hurricane loaded the bases again in the 10th inning after a Bowen single and bunts by Cierra Hughes and Barrett, but failed to get a run across the plate.
Tulsa scored the games first runs with a three-run second inning. Shelby Blanton began the inning with a single through the right side of the infield. Stoelke bunted herself to first base due to an overthrow by third baseman Desiree Beltran and advanced Blanton to third base.
Stoelke advanced to second base on a Bowen ground out to the pitcher, then Cierra Hughes walked to load the bases. Caitlin Everett took Marina Demore's pitch to the right center field fence to clear the bases with her single-season school record sixth triple for a 3-0 Tulsa lead.
OSU responded with one run in the bottom of the second inning and tied the score at 3-3 with two runs on three hits in the third inning.
The Hurricane added three runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead. Stoelke began with an infield single, while Bowen reached on a bunt and Stoelke advanced to second. Everett's single scored Stoelke and Bowen advanced to third base. Barrett's reached first on an error by the OSU third baseman, scoring Bowen and moving Everett to second base. With two outs, Swanson singled to left field scoring Everett, but Swanson was thrown out trying to reach second base.
Swanson added what would end up being an important run to lead off the top of the seventh inning with a home run giving the Hurricane its four-run margin.
If Tulsa faces the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday the game will be televised on COX Cable-Channel 3 and HD 703 in Tulsa. Game time is 1 pm.
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