MONTCLAIR, N.J. -- Montclair State University's Red Hawks took advantage of an error in the top of the eighth inning Sunday to plate what turned out to be the winning run for in a 3-2 regional championship victory over Virginia Wesleyan College's Marlins.
The Red Hawks (45-3) saw momentum start to turn in their favor in the inning when Jamie Paulino (Linden, N.J./Linden) reached base on a wild pitch after striking out. She stole second and moved to third on a single by Dana Amato (Hillsdale, N.J./Pascak Valley). Virginia Wesleyan (41-8) came up with the second out, but the Hawks scored the go-ahead run when the next batter reached base on an error that gave Paulino time to score.
Virginia Wesleyan (41-8), which posted a program record for victories in any sport, had the final time at bat. Rookie Courtney Bogan (Round Hill/Woodgrove) kept the Marlins alive when she reached base on an error with two outs. She moved into scoring position after stealing second, but MSU came up with the third out to end the regional competition.
VWC led first in the game, scoring a run in the bottom of the first when junior Tori Higginbotham (Glen Allen/J.R. Tucker)tripled and scored on a throwing error. MSU tied the game in the top of the second though when Megan Zeller homered to left field.
The Hawks moved into a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth when Alex Hill (Parsippiny, N.J./Parsippany Hills) reached base on a fielder's choice and moved to second base on a passed ball. She scored, with two outs, on a VWC throwing error.
Virginia Wesleyan came back however, matching the run in the bottom of the same inning. Lead-off hitter Higginbotham drew a walk and moved to second base on a sacrifice by junior Kelly Keys (Manassas/Osbourn Park). A single to left by junior Season Dailey (Norfolk/Virginia Beach Frank W. Cox) scored the run.
The Marlins had the opportunity to break open the game in the inning as sophomore Kristina Karagiorgis (Ashburn/Briar Woods) took a base after being hit by a pitch and moved to second when Bogan walked to load the bases with just one out. But, the threat ended when the Marlins struck out twice and left the bags loaded.
Virginia Wesleyan advanced to the championship game via a 4-0 victory over Susquehanna University (40-9) in the loser's bracket final. The Marlins took the lead in the second inning after Dailey singled, moved to second on a Bogan sacrifice, and scored when rookie Taylor Galvin (Virginia Beach/Kempsville) singled.
The Marlins made it a 2-0 score in the top of the fifth. Higginbotham drew a walk, stole second base and scored on a Keys single up the middle. VWC pulled away in the sixth when senior Chelsea Henline (Chesapeake/Great Bridge) drew a walk, Dailey reached base on an error and Bogan put down a sacrifice bunt to load the bags. One run scored when Galvin took a base after she was hit by a pitch. Junior Megan Bell-Hill (Chesterfield/Cosby) hit a sacrifice fly to make it a 4-0 contest. But, it stopped there as the Crusaders came up with the outs to leave bases loaded and end the inning.
Susquehanna posted its biggest threat in the seventh loading the bases with a single and two walks. VWC came up the the outs it needed to keep the Crusaders scoreless.
Junior Mackenzie Creech (Hillsborough, N.C./Orange) improved her season record to 23-4 with the pitching win against Susquehanna. She struck out four batters, walked four and allowed just two hits. Rookie Mary Shipp (Virginia Beach/First Colonial) pitched to the Crusaders' final batter to end the game.
VWC outhit Susquehanna 9-2 led by Keys and Dailey with two hits each. Amanda Neveroski (Toms River, N.J./North) led the Crusaders with two hits. Ashley Cole (Carle Place, N.Y./Carle Place) and Sarah Hoffman (Laceyville, Pa./Wyalusing Valley) pitched three innings each. They walked two batters.
Karagiorgis started in the circle for VWC against Montclair State and worked 5.1 innings. She allowed a walk and three hits before Shipp entered and worked 2.1 innings. She struck out four batters and gave up just one hit. Creech finished, facing two batters and gave up nothing.
Alex Hill improved to 37-3 as the winning pitcher for MSU. She struck out 11 batters, walked three and scattered three hits.
Dailey led VWC with two hits against MSU. Higginbotham added a triple. Dana Amato (Hillsdale, N.J./Pascack Valley) led MSU with three hits.
2013 Montclair Regional All-Tournament Team
Lauren Tierney, Sr, C, Roger Williams
Katie Schuh, Jr., 2B, Kean, DeSales
Shelby Wilson, So., C, DeSales
Amanda Neveroski, OF, Fy., Susquehanna
Ashley Cole, P, Fy., Susquehanna
Kelly Keys, Jr., 2B, Virginia Wesleyan
Melany Zeller, So., DP, Montclair State
Tori Higginbotham, Jr., OF, Virginia Wesleyan
Dana Amato, Jr., 3B, Montclair State
Jamie Paulino, Sr., OF, Montclair State
MacKenzie Creech, Jr., P, Virginia Wesleyan
Most Outstanding Player
Alex Hill, Jr., P - Montclair State