PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- Second-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University stranded three runners in scoring position over the final three innings and was eliminated from the double-elimination Little East Conference Softball Tournament by fourth-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston, 2-1, in the finals of the losers' bracket Friday morning at D&M Park on the campus of Plymouth State University.
Eastern (15-25) was coming off consecutive one-run extra-inning wins as the visiting team Thursday that kept it alive after a first-round tournament loss Tuesday but had its season ended by UMass Boston (26-11) after sweeping the Beacons on the road just less than a month ago by scores of 2-1 and 6-4.
In Friday's loss, freshman lefty Morgan Sanson (Thomaston) was sensational again, allowing just two singles and a double while fanning three, walking three and hitting a batter in going the distance for the third straight start. Sanson (5-7) sustained her first tournament loss after pitching 12 2/3 scoreless innings in two winning performances Thursday.
Sanson, who was 2-1 with a 0.53 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 26 2/3 tournament innings, had a string of 21 1/3 scoreless innings stopped when UMB scored in the top of the first on a hit batter, walk, and cleanup hitter Gia Raczkowski's RBI single. The Warriors tied the game in the bottom of the inning on an RBI double by senior DP Kristyn Ryan (Barkhamsted) which followed a leadoff single by freshman shortstop Sara Pisanelli (Wallingford) and sacrifice bunt by senior centerfield Samantha Bardos (Norwalk), but UMass pushed across what proved to be the winning run in the third on a two-out double by Raczkowski and an error on Taylor Pawlina's bunt single.
Trailing 2-1, Eastern had runners aboard in four consecutive innings (putting the leadoff batter on base twice) against freshman complete-game winner Jess Greenspan (18-7), who recorded her 20th complete game in 23 starts. Ryan doubled with two out in the third but Greenspan ended the threat by getting senior infielder Gina Georgetti (Milford) on an inning-ending line drive to second; senior first baseman Samantha Valentine (Ridge, NY) opened the fourth with a single, but Greenspan got a strikeout and two infield ground balls to wiggle free.
The Warriors' best chance came in the fifth when Bardos doubled Pisanelli (single) to third with one out, but Greenspan induced a foul out and ended the inning with a ground ball to first. Valentine opened the sixth with a single and senior pinch runner Kelsey Moser (Oxford, MA) stole second before Greenspan induced three fly balls to cut short the threat.
In four tournament games, Ryan (.467) was 7-for-15 with four doubles and three RBI and Bardos (.462) was 6-for-13 with two walks. Pisanelli (.333) was 5-for-15 and did not commit an error on 18 chances and Valentine (.333) was 4-for-12 and handled 35 chances in the field with only one error.
Appearing in all four tournament games (two in relief, two as a starter), Sanson walked only five and surrendered only three extra base hits. She tied the season record with 20 relief appearances among her 29 overall appearances this year and fanned 76 in 92 2/3 innings.