Blue Demons' Late Comeback Falls Short Against No. 24/24 USF
April 21, 2013
CHICAGO - It looked like DePaul was headed for a storybook finish in the bottom of the 13th inning on Sunday.
Instead, a promising rally turned into a disappointing 4-3 BIG EAST Conference loss to No. 24/24 USF at Cacciatore Stadium.
USF (37-13, 15-2) had scored twice in the top of the inning on Lee Ann Spivey's RBI double and Kourtney Salvarola's run-scoring single to left.
Instead of deflating, the Blue Demons came out more determined than ever against Bulls ace Sara Nevins (20-6), one of the premier pitchers in the nation.
Samantha Dodd, who already had three hits and stroked a walk-off, game-winning single on Saturday, was poised for more heroics.
But Nevins won this battle with a strikeout.
Up next was Mary Connolly, whose two-run single in the fifth inning had erased a 2-0 USF lead. There isn't anybody else DePaul coach Eugene Lenti would want in the batter's box at that moment than his team leader in home runs and RBIs.
Once again, Nevins was up to the challenge and struck out Connolly.
That left it up to starting pitcher Kirsten Verdun (16-9). The DePaul cleanup hitter worked Nevins for a bases-loaded walk.
It was Paige Peterson's chance to win one for the Blue Demons. But the sophomore right-fielder grounded out to end the game.
"I told the players the effort was great but the execution was really lacking," Lenti said. "We didn't have good at-bats at the right times. After we loaded the bases with no outs in the last inning, Verdun's was the only quality at-bat.
"If you want to be a championship-caliber team, you have to execute when you need it. This is why you lose in 13 innings. If we had executed, we win."
Both teams had opportunities galore.
USF stranded a total of five runners in the eighth and ninth innings. In the 10th, 11th and 12 innings, the Blue Demons left a total of seven runners on base.
Dodd led off the 12th with a double. After Connolly was intentionally walked, Verdun sacrificed the runners to second and third. Peterson was intentionally walked to load the bases.
DePaul (24-16, 11-3) and USF left a combined 32 runners on base.
"Both teams had plenty of chances to end it," Lenti said. "To our credit, Verdun pitched out of some tough jams. But when we had a chance to win it, we didn't have quality at-bats."
Next up for the Blue Demons is a Wednesday BIG EAST doubleheader at St. John's.
NOTES: Verdun and Nevins combined to throw 441 pitches in Sunday's game with Nevins piling up 230 and Verdun 211... USF outhit DePaul 12-11 and committed the game's lone error... the 13-inning marathon was one inning shy of a regulation doubleheader and lasted nearly four hours... it was the longest game of the season for both teams... Verdun gave up four runs and 12 hits in 13 innings with 15 strikeouts and six walks... Nevins gave up three runs on 10 hits with 14 strikeouts and seven walks... Dodd was 3-for-6 while Braden and Brown were each 2-for-5 with a run scored... Connolly, Verdun, Bonezek and Coronado each had one hit.
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