YORK – The last time the Panthers swept a KCAC doubleheader was at the end of the 2016 season when the team swept Bethel College and earned the final spot in the KCAC postseason tournament. That drought ended on Tuesday afternoon in great fashion. The first game was a nailbiter down to the final at-bat; one that mimicked Willie Mayes Hayes scoring the winning run in the movie Major League. Game two was a different story as the Panthers dominated from the first pitch, riding the momentum of the excitement from the first game.
After the Panthers scored the tieing run in the sixth inning with no outs and the bases loaded, York looked to be in the driver’s seat to take the lead into the seventh inning. However, a strikeout, a fly out, and ground out ended those chances.
The tables seemed to turn against the Panthers in the top of the seventh inning as the Coyotes loaded the bases with no outs. With the game tied 2-2, the Panthers needed to minimize any damage to have a chance to win in the bottom half of the inning. Maricelo Romero came up huge in the inning as she caught a hard hit line drive for the first out. After Ciera Montalvo (JR/Fresno, Calif.) was able to strike out the next batter, Romero fielded a grounder right at her and tagged out the runner from second to third. York escaped without a run scoring.
In the bottom half of the inning, it was the Danielle Cornejo (JR/Chino, Calif. ) show. After a leadoff single she surprised everyone when she tagged on a fly ball to left-center field. Kansas Wesleyan didn’t expect it and she slid under the throw at second base. A strikeout for Samantha Adami (SR/Hayward, Calif.) brought Laura Leos (SR/Wilmington, Calif.) up to the plate with two outs. On a 2-0 pitch she was hit on the arm and awarded first. Romero was now up to bat and swung on the first pitch. A slow dribbler down the first base line meant she needed to beat the throw at first to extend the game. She beat the throw by a hair and as all attention was on her at first Cornejo had already rounded third and headed for home. In true Willie Mayes Hayes style, Cornejo slid under the tag and the Panthers rushed the field with the 3-2 win.
Offensively, York was led by Maricelo Romero as she was the only player with a multi-hit game. She went 3-for-4 with a double and the winning RBI. Montalvo got the win as she pitched the final two innings. Briana Walter (SO/Ralston, Neb.) went five innings allowing four hits and no earned runs. As a team the Panthers stranded 11 runners.
Riding the momentum of game one, the Panthers scored a run in the first inning and never looked back. A deep fly ball to right field was dropped by the Coyotes’ fielder and Meida Tautalatsi scored from third. Another error by Kansas Wesleyan in the second inning put Maricela Romero (JR/Bakersfield, Calif.) across home.
In the fourth inning the Panthers’ offense exploded scoring three runs on four hits. Breianna Cortez (SO/Lubbock, Texas) reached on a walk and Tautalatasi bunted herself safely to first. Hannah Saroka (FR/Papillion, Neb.) followed suit and reached on a bunt to load the bases with no outs. Samantha Adami singled to left scoring Cortez from third. Laura Leos followed that up with a two-run single up the middle.
The fifth was similar for the Panthers as they scored two runs on three hits. That would be all the scoring for the Panthers as they cruised to the 7-0 win. Alysia Rodriguez (SR/Canyon Lake, Calif.) picked up the complete game win for the Panthers allowing just four hits while striking out four batters.
York has 13 hits in the six innings of offense as four Panthers had two hits. Leos was the big hitter as she went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
York improves to 4-6 in KCAC action and will travel to Sterling College on Saturday.