The Eureka College softball team made big strides Tuesday in the race for a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament bid, sweeping a critical league doubleheader from Webster in Eureka. The Red Devils walked off with a 6-5 win in eight innings in game one and Kali George (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) set a new all-time Eureka record for wins in the nightcap with her 46th career triumph in EC's 4-2 win.
The victories improved the Red Devils to 23-7 overall and 11-5 in the SLIAC. Eureka is in a third-place tie with Fontbonne and both teams own a slim advantage over fifth-place Spalding in the current league standings. Tuesday's victories also marked Eureka's first doubleheader sweep of Webster in 12 seasons as rivals in the SLIAC.
George's win was the 46th of her four-year EC career, breaking Tina Sharp's previous school record of 45 set between 1993 and 1996. George also extended her own all-time school record for innings pitched to 469.2 and has 227 career strikeouts, third-most in program history.
Game 1: EC 6, Webster 5
Courtney Kurtz (Minooka, Ill./Minooka H.S.) went 2-for-2 and George drove in two, including a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth inning. Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) continued her dominant 2018 season, improving to 11-2 in the circle by limiting the Gorloks to three earned runs over 8.0 innings.
Each team plated a run in the second inning. Morgan Mansur pushed the visitors to a 1-0 lead with her solo home run, but Eureka pulled even when Kurtz singled and later scored from first on George's RBI double to the left-field fence.
WU regained a 3-1 cushion in the third inning. Terri Dearth clubbed a solo home run early in the frame and Katlyn Garza tacked on a two-out run-scoring double.
Eureka rallied with a big fourth inning, scoring four times on four hits. Adrianna Zeman (La Salle, Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.) inched EC within a run with an RBI double down the left field line and Allison Cagley (Fairbury, Ill./Prairie Central H.S.) evened the game at 3-3 three batters later when her single inside the third-base line plated George. Consecutive pinch-hit RBI singles followed from Danielle Brittain (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) and Klaire Wilmot (La Salle, Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.) and the Red Devils led 5-3 when the dust finally settled.
The Gorloks were limited to two hits over the next two innings but took advantage of a Eureka error in the seventh to force extra innings with two unearned runs. Tessa Johanning smacked a run-scoring double into the gap for a 5-4 deficit and Abby Burroughs followed with an RBI single to left that scored Johanning for a 5-5 deadlock.
After Webster came up empty in the top of the eighth, Eureka executed perfectly in the bottom of the frame. With Zeman on second base due to the international tiebreaker rule, Kurtz put down a sacrifice bunt to advance Zeman to third for George, who lifted a sacrifice fly to left that allowed Zeman sprint home and score the game winner.
The decision marked Eureka's first walk-off win since a 5-4 triumph over Penn College on March 5 in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. It was the Red Devils' first walk-off win on their home diamond since a 6-5 win over Fontbonne on April 22, 2017.
Game 2: EC 4, Webster 2
Eureka had four hits in game two, but none bigger than a third-inning grand slam from Gabby Wood (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.). George threw 97 pitches and walked none in her historic complete-game win, improving to 10-5 this spring.
The Red Devils loaded the bases in the third inning on a Wilmot single, a Krysten Wallace (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) infield single and a Kerrigan Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) walk. Wood went on to unload the bases with her fourth home run of the season, an opposite-field bomb that pushed Eureka to a 4-0 advantage.
Webster produced a bases-loaded threat of its own in the fourth, but George limited the damage to a single run when Dearth scored on a wild pitch. Back-to-back fly outs ended the jam with Eureka still in front, 4-1.
Down three in the seventh, WU brought the tying run to the plate with only one out. Amanda Kraus singled to score Brienna Sheperd to cut the deficit to 4-2, but the Red Devils recorded the second out of the inning when George cut Wallace's throw to the infield and quickly threw to Dura at second base to tag out pinch-runner Skiela Martinez as she retreated to the bag. George struck out White moments later for the final out of the game.
Eureka will play its final home games of the regular season, as well as its final non-conference games of 2018, when USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield visits for a 3 p.m. doubleheader Wednesday. The Red Devils and Eagles split a twin bill in Springfield last month.
STORY COURTESY OF EUREKA COLLEGE SPORTS INFORMATION