Dayton, Tenn. – One late run in the top of the seventh helped the 13th ranked Georgia-Gwinnett College Grizzlies escape a possible upset by the Bryan College Lions Softball Team Friday afternoon in game one of their doubleheader. After taking the first game 5-4, Georgia-Gwinnett was given another scare in game two when Bryan pieced together three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull within one, but the Grizzlies kept the Lions off the board in the last frame to get the sweep. Another 5-4 win in game two improved their overall record to a notable 20-5, while the Lions dropped to 8-10.
Bryan entered Friday's meeting coming off two compelling victories (10-0 & 9-1) against Hiwassee College (Tenn.) on Thursday, Mar. 9, and looked to carry that momentum against top-ranked Georgia-Gwinnett.
The Lions got in a hole early as they gave the Grizzlies the first run of the game off three errors in the top of the first.
Georgia-Gwinnett added on another run in the second when they singled to leadoff, were walked which advanced a runner to second, and delivered an RBI single to center for a 2-0 lead.
A single turned into a double due to another Bryan error in the third as the Grizzles started their at-bat. They took scoring position at third when a Grizzly grounded out to the pitcher. Georgia-Gwinnett smashed a double to right, scoring one run and putting another possible run on second. An error allowed a runner to third, and the Grizzlies went up 4-0 as they scored before a late double play was made.
It wasn't until the fourth inning that the Lions came alive, cutting the deficit to 4-2. Marissa Murray (JR/Hixson, Tenn.) was the first to get on base with a single to center. Georgia-Gwinnett walked Ashley Brown (JR/Pikeville, Tenn.), putting runners on first and second with one out. Shelby Ralston (FR/Dalton, Ga.) entered as a pinch runner for Murray at second and made her way to third when the Grizzlies walked Kaleigh Riley (SR/Hixson, Tenn.) to load the bases. Ralston scored the first run for Bryan when she got a free pass to home on another walk. Brown scored the next run when Kim Borowski (SR/Apopka, Fla.) singled up the middle, but the Lions would leave three on base to end the inning.
Georgia-Gwinnett continued to help Bryan in the bottom of the fifth frame with two consecutive walks to start their at-bat. Hannah O'Shields (SO/LaFayette, Ga.) was the first Lions to watch as four balls were tossed her way. Aubrie Osborne (FR/Chatsworth, Ga.) was patient and reached on a walk, which set up the Lions with two on and no outs. Bryan popped out to the infield for the first out, keeping the runners where they were. Brown provided an RBI double smoked to left-center, scoring O'Shields and placing Osborne in scoring position at third. Kaitlin Bradley (SR/Knoxville, Tenn.) entered to pinch run for Osborne, but the Grizzlies anticipated the next play and executed as Riley singled to second. Georgia-Gwinnett scooped up the ball and sent it home just in time to tag Bradley out before reaching base. While this play was going on, Brown advanced to third. Heidi Smith (FR/Cookeville, Tenn.) singled to short, plating Brown to level the score 4-4.
Three up and three down happened for both sides in the sixth, giving way to the final inning. The Grizzlies applied the pressure early with a leadoff double to left. A ground out and fly out to center followed, leaving the Lions needing only more out. A single was swatted to right, scoring the winning run for a 5-4 final.
Two strikeouts and a pop out was all the Lions could manage in the bottom of the seventh as the nearly squeezed out an upset.
Sydney West (SO/White House, Tenn.) moved her record to 1-6 this season after hurling a complete seven innings and surrendering eight hits, five runs, four earned, three walks, and one strikeout. Borowski, Murray, and Riley led the team with two hits apiece. Brown tallied the only extra-base hit with a double as she finished 1-of-3 with one run batted in and two runs scored. Smith had a team-high two RBIs and went 1-of-3 at the plate. Zimmerman collected the only other hit for Bryan as the outhit Georgia-Gwinnett 9-8. The Lions struggled with five errors and leaving runners on base.
The Grizzlies clawed their way to an early 1-0 lead again as game two got underway. Following a quite second inning, the Lions were able to get runners on second and third with no outs in the third, but Bryan continued to come up short while leaving runners on base with no runs to show for it.
Georgia-Gwinnett doubled to right to open up the fourth inning, and a groundout allowed the runner to take scoring position at third. A single and double provided two runs to build a 3-0 advantage for the Grizzlies.
Singles by Osborne, Murray, and Courtney Petty (FR/Lebanon, Tenn.) loaded the bases for Bryan with only one out in the bottom of the fourth. Riley stepped up to the plate and grounded out to second, allowing Osborne to reach home for their first run of the game. Another groundout followed, preventing any more runs for Bryan as they left two on base.
It looked as if the Lions would take control of the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning when they loaded the bases, but they were unable to capitalize as they trailed the Grizzlies 3-1 going into the sixth.
One walk and three hits provided Georgia-Gwinnett just enough separation in the top of the sixth inning as they built onto their lead, 5-1.
Bryan made things interesting in the bottom of the sixth as Petty reached on a walk and Kayla Hayes (FR/Dresden, Tenn.) pinch hit and reached base on a missed catch. Riley entered to pinch run for Hayes and advanced to second while Petty took third as Smith singled to left on a full count. A passed ball allowed Petty to score, moving Riley to third and smith to second. The Grizzlies got the Lions to strikeout for the first out, but Gore followed with a ground out that was good enough to score Riley and move Smith to third. Zimmerman registered her one RBI of the game with a single to center, scoring Smith to make it a one run ballgame. Unfortunately, that was as close the Bryan would get to a comeback as Georgia-Gwinnett got the W with a 5-4 final score.
Petty got the loss after pitching the entire game and allowing 11 hits and five runs while walking two and throwing five K's. She is now 4-4 this season with a 3.95 ERA. Smith and Zimmerman led the Lions in hits with two each, respectively, as Zimmerman got an RBI and Smith scored one run. Both Lions each had one double apiece. Osborne, Petty, Murray, Gore, and Borowski each had a hit in the outing. Gore and Riley finished with one RBI apiece, and Osborne, Petty, and Riley each scored one run. A difference maker for Bryan was the 10 runners left on base.
Next, Bryan will travel on Tuesday, Mar. 14, for an AAC twin bill against the Bears of Truett-McConnell College (Ga.) with the first pitch scheduled for 2pm.
For a complete look at the Bryan Softball schedule, click here.
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