By STEFAN GESTWICKI
OBSERVER Sports Reporter
Fredonia State couldn't hold on to its early 3-0 lead and fell to Plattsburgh State, 9-3, Saturday in the opening game of a long day for the Blue Devils - a day which ended with three losses.
OBSERVER?Photo by Gib Snyder III
Fredonia State pitcher Danielle Shelp prepares to deliver a pitch Saturday, during her team’s SUNYAC?game against SUNY?Potsdam, at Fredonia State.
In the first game, after Ashley LaPorta pitched out a jam in the top of the first inning, Anne Wasik (Fredonia) helped get Fredonia State on the board in the bottom half.
Wasik took the second pitch from Plattsburgh starting pitcher Heather Loughran and drove it off the fence in center field for a leadoff double.
Tina Schwartzmeyer popped up her bunt attempt for the first out, but a wild pitch moved Wasik to third.
Katie Bartkowiak (Fredonia) chopped a grounder back to Loughran, but Wasik's aggressive baserunning from third gave the Blue Devils the quick 1-0 lead.
Lauren Larson walked and Hannah Vesneske singled as Fredonia State threatened to break the game open early, but both runners were stranded when Gabrielle Ciccarello flew out to center.
LaPorta allowed two singles in the first, but was in total control over the next three innings. She retired nine of the next 10 batters she faced through the fourth inning.
"She was definitely keeping the ball down and away from the power hitters," Fredonia State coach Nicole Loudin said. "She was executing her pitches phenomenally."
The Blue Devils' offense came alive again in the bottom of the fourth.
Michelle Lattner led off with a flyout to center, but Vesneske walked, Ciccarello singled and Brittany Lis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Rachel Burrows followed with a grounder to first, but first baseman Brianna Clark's throw home was low and Vesneske was able to slide in with the Blue Devils' second run.
Wasik worked a full count before drawing an RBI walk to give Fredonia State a 3-0 lead.
Unfortunately, that's all the Blue Devils would get in the inning as they left the bases loaded after a flyout and groundout.
"We didn't execute on some plays that we should have," Loudin added. "We definitely left some runs on base and people didn't step up."
After watching Fredonia load the bases and score a pair of runs, the Cardinals' bats came out of hibernation.
Erin Florkiewicz led things off with a bang, hitting a solo home run over the fence in left-center.
LaPorta got the next batter, Dana Mandery, to hit a weak grounder back to the mound, but her throw was well wide of the mark for a throwing error. Mandery stole second and went to third on Megan Price's single. Price alertly advanced to second on the throw to third.
Brittney Marshall then collected two RBIs without hitting the ball out of the infield. She perfectly pushed a bunt past LaPorta and, with the infield shifting to cover the bases, no one was available to field the ball. Both runners scored to tie the game as LaPorta had to chase the ball all the way to the outfield grass.
A pair of defensive gems helped save a huge inning. Vesneske threw out Marshall attempting to steal second and Lis robbed Allison Smiddy of a hit with a diving stop at second.
With the bases empty and two outs, three straight singles loaded the bases again for Plattsburgh and chased LaPorta from the game.
"It wasn't a matter of Ashley doing anything wrong," Loudin explained. "They're just very talented hitters and they caught up. They found a way to adjust to her."
Danielle Shelp was called on to get out of the jam, but walked the first batter she faced to force in the go-ahead run. Finally, Florkiewicz - who led off the inning with a homer - flew out to stop the bleeding.
The Blue Devils seemed poised to retake the lead after loading the bases with no outs against new pitcher Ashley Marshall. Larson walked and back-to-back singles by Lattner and Vesneske had Fredonia State thinking about a big inning, but Marshall recorded three straight strikeouts to completely take the wind out of the Blue Devils' sail.
Fredonia State left nine runners on base through the first five innings - twice leaving the bases full.
Adding insult to injury, the Cardinals came out and hit through the order again in the sixth en route to another four runs and an 8-3 lead.
The bottom three of Plattsbugh's order combined for four hits, five runs scored and reached base eight times.
The Cardinals added an insurance run in the top of the seventh on two hit batters and a dropped fly ball.
The Blue Devils dropped the second game to Plattsburgh by an identical 9-3 score.
Marshall was back in the circle for Game 2 for the Cardinals. Her teammates staked her to an 8-0 lead before the Blue Devils scored all three of their runs in the third. Singles by Lis and Burrows put runners on first and third. Schwartzmeyer followed with an RBI single and Bartkowiak with a two-run double.
The third game was a continuation of a delayed game against Potsdam. The offense never came through as Fredonia State fell, 1-0.
Shelp was the tough-luck loser to Potsdam. She scattered seven hits and struck out nine. Potsdam's Ashley Thayer was the winning pitcher. She tossed a complete-game five-hitter.
Bartkowiak had two hits and stole two bases for the Blue Devils. Jessica Lauck cracked a double.
The first four innings of the game were played Friday before it was suspended because of rain and lightning.
The Blue Devils are back in action Thursday when Pitt-Bradford visits Blue Devil Field for a non-conference doubleheader.