Walk-Off Special: Durham Lifts Falcons Past Toledo
13abc.com Joe Nugent, Sports Anchor/Reporter - email
Nothing is predicable when it comes to a rivalry game between two teams that are fighting for postseason positioning, and the heated battle of I-75 fell nothing short of a spectacular at Meserve Field on Saturday (May 3) evening. The Bowling Green State University took the first game of the Mid-American Conference weekend series against the visiting University of Toledo by a score of 2-1.
"I couldn't be more proud of our team tonight," Falcons head coach Shannon Salsburg said. "I thought it was a complete team effort."
Playing in the official lights ceremony, honoring Lee and Marge Meserve for their generous donations towards six light poles that surround Meserve Field, the announced 220 Falcon faithful witnessed freshman Amanda Durham hit her second walk-off single of her collegiate career to help lift the Falcons (22-28-1, 8-11) past the Rockets (19-33, 9-12) in a crucial game with a postseason berth at stake.
"She wants to be up to the plate. She gets excited to be in those situations and fortunately she took a good swing," Salsburg said. "Trista gave Durham a great opportunity by getting on base and they came through."
The Orange and Brown, who entered the evening tied for ninth place, now sits in a four-way tie for seventh place heading into the final day of the regular season.
Durham led the Falcons offensively in the game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and game-winning RBI. Chelsea Raker (1-for-3, RBI), Madison Schrock (1-for-3), Haley Schrock (1-for-2), and Trista Mokienko (1-for-3) all collected a hit in the game. In all, the Falcons totaled two runs on seven hits and proved to be enough as junior Jamie Kertes pitched her eighth complete game of the season.
Kertes (13-20), who earned the win in the game, held the Rockets to six hits and one unearned run while working all seven frames. The junior, who hails from Carnegie, Pennsylvania, also struck out six Toledo batters who came into the game batting .285 as a team.
"Kertes pitched well with our backs against the wall," Salsburg said. "I wanted our team to play well and finish the regular season out strong. It was a great way to start tonight."
Kertes worked the first three innings in the game surrendering only two hits before allowing the first runner to reach second in the fourth inning. The Rockets threatened to score the game's first run when Jessica Lemieux reached second on a sacrifice bunt. However, Kertes forced back-to-back outs to keep the game scoreless.
"Kertes worked very well with Stratton (Erika) tonight and they did an awesome job against Toledo," Salsburg said. "Kertes is a competitor and she did an awesome job of competing tonight."
Scoreless through the first five innings of play, the Rockets finally broke through with a single run in the top half of the sixth inning. After the Rockets reached base on a Falcon error, Toledo brought around the runner with a sacrifice fly ball. The Rockets continued the inning by loading the bases, but Kertes limited the damage by striking out the next batter to keep the game at 1-0.
"They are a very good hitting team and we know that," Salsburg said. "Kertes did a great job of owning the zone and she was able to get a lot of strikes today."
Kertes' efforts in the circle finally paid off as the bats came alive in the home half of the sixth inning. Durham led off the frame with a single up the middle before scoring from first base when Raker smacked a ball to the center field fence, tying the game at 1-1.
After Kertes retired the Toledo lineup in order in the top of the seventh, the Falcons came up with the only run that mattered. Mokienko started the inning with a double down the right field line to give the Orange and Brown an opportunity to complete their comeback. After the Rockets forced a fly out, Durham stepped up and delivered with a two-out RBI walk-off single to right field.
"We are going to celebrate our senior tomorrow and thank them for four amazing years," Salsburg said. "We have to focus and be ready for a battle against Toledo."