TYLER, TEXAS – UT Tyler scored six runs in their first three trips to the plate and used a save in the top of the seventh from Shea O’Leary to win 6-5 over #9 West Texas A&M in game one of the 2023 NCAA DII South Central Super Regionals.
The Patriots are now one win away from a repeat appearance in the NCAA Division II World Series heading into tomorrow afternoon’s game two and if-necessary game three. UT Tyler scored five runs in the bottom of the second and then got what would end up being the deciding run in the ballgame on a solo homer from senior Amanda Marek in the bottom of the third.
West Texas A&M made it a one-run game with their second two run homer of the game off the bat of Ruby Salzman in the top of the seventh, but came up short in the comeback bid after O’Leary came on and retired the ensuing three batters for the Lady Buffs. O’Leary’s fourth save of the year notched win no. 35 in a row for the Patriots and solidified starter Tatum Goff’s 38th win in the circle.
UT Tyler opened up a 5-1 lead after two complete innings, a pair of innings that lasted over an hour as both teams managed multiple baserunners in each of their first few at bats. West Texas A&M struck first with a run in the top of the second, but couldn’t hold the lead through the bottom half of the frame as the Patriots put across five runs to open the sizeable advantage.
The Patriots drew three walks in that second inning and notched five of their six hits in the ballgame in the frame to answer the early Lady Buff run. Junior Courtney Plocheck scored two runs with a bases-loaded single to make it 3-1 after Sam Schott walk that scored a run.
Junior Michelle Arias followed suit with Plocheck with an RBI single that made it 4-1, and then Audrey Escamilla capped off the inning with an RBI single to establish the 5-1 lead. The scoring continued for both teams in the third as Diana Murtha hit a two-run homer that made it 5-3 in the top of the third, and Marek a solo-shot to leadoff the bottom of the frame to make it 6-3.
Goff and relief pitcher Heidi Vortherms of West Texas A&M engaged in a three-inning battle from that point forward in the circle, as Goff stranded a pair of runners in the fourth and fifth while Vortherms retired 12 straight Patriots after Marek’s homer to keep the score at 6-3 heading into the seventh.
A leadoff fielding error by the Patriots set Salzman up in the ensuing at-bat for a two-run homer off Goff to cut the lead to just 6-5. O’Leary took over in the circle and retired three straight, two of which came on excellent defensive plays from Schott and Arias to put an end to the Lady Buff comeback.
Goff moved to 38-0 on the year with 6.0 complete innings of work, conceding four earned runs while striking out five.
Six different Patriots notched hits in the ballgame, while Plocheck posted the lone multi-RBI effort of the contest with the two-run single in the second.
UT Tyler needs just one win tomorrow in the best-of-three series to advance to the 2023 NCAA Division II World Series on May 25-29 in Chattanooga, Tenn. First pitch for game two is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start, with the if-necessary game three to follow.