Zauner's Walk-Off Homer Lifts Spartans to Sweep of Furman
Spartanburg, S.C. – Katie Zauner took the first pitch she saw in the bottom of the eighth inning and cranked a walk-off two-run home run to left field to lift USC Upstate to a 3-1 victory in the second game of the doubleheader sweep of Furman Wednesday evening at Cyrill Stadium. The Spartans won game one, 6-0.
Upstate pitcher Morgan Childers (Kings Mountain, N.C.) earned the wins in both games, tossing a two-hit shutout in game one and coming in for the win in relief in game two. Zauner (Canby, Ore.) hit her team-best sixth home run of the season.
Upstate improved to 18-0 to start the season, the best start in the school's Division I era and the best start since the 2000 squad went 28-0. Furman fell to 2-8 on the year.
It was an uphill battle for Upstate in the second game as Furman starter Kayla Suskauer kept the Spartans off balance at the plate. Upstate posted just one hit through the first four innings. Furman jumped on top in the second inning when Stephanie Spain singled to drive in a run off of Upstate starter Hannah Alexander (Lexington, N.C.).
The score remained 1-0 until Upstate finally broke through in the fifth inning. Ashley Butler (Laurens, S.C.) came to the plate as a pinch hitter with one out in the fifth. She took the pitch over the wall in center field to tie the game at 1-1.
Childers had entered the game with one out in the fifth inning. She shutdown Furman in the inning, then tossed three more innings of perfect ball to allow Upstate to complete the comeback.
Furman got out of a jam in the seventh inning. Janna Lewis (Huntersville, N.C.) singled up the middle to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. However, Kim Brasil (Mississauga, Ontario) lined out to the shortstop and Lewis was doubled-off at second.
With the international tiebreaker rule in effect, Furman put a runner on third on a sacrifice bunt to start the inning. But, Upstate struck out the next batter and induced a pop up to end the threat.
In the bottom of the inning, Ericka Harris (Piedmont, S.C.) sacrificed Brasil over to third with one out. After a ground out, Zauner came up and belted the game-winning home run to lift Upstate to the win. Childers picked up her 13th win of the season.
"It was the first time that we really had to come from behind," said Upstate head coach Chris Hawkins. "I thought our intensity level in the sixth and seventh inning matched their intensity for the entire game. I thought Hannah and Morgan pitched exceptionally well. When you have someone like Morgan, you tend to have a quick trigger. Hannah did well, we just didn't hit for her."
In game one, Childers was in total command. She went the distance, striking out 14 while allowing just two hits to lead Upstate to the win. It was her 12th win of the season, leading to her 13th victory in game two.
Upstate jumped on top with two runs in the second inning. Brasil plated two runs with a double to left center as Upstate opened a 2-0 lead. The Spartans broke open the game with four runs in the sixth. Katelyn Molkenthin (Valrico, Fla.) drove in a run and Brasil doubled in another two runs. She later scored on Harris' fly out, advancing to third after tagging up and scoring on a throwing error on the play.
Brasil was simply outstanding, finishing with two doubles and four RBIs for the Spartans. Jenna Torbert (Denver, N.C.) added a pair of hits. Molkenthin had two hits and two runs.
Spain led Furman at the plate with two hits in the second game. Lauren Collier took the loss in game one to fall to 1-5 on the year, while Suskauer took the loss in game two to fall to 1-3.