Blades Walk-Off Caps Wild Win Over Georgia, 5-4
BATON ROUGE, La. – With one out and a runner at first in the bottom of the eighth inning, the LSU softball team didn’t want to give the visiting 13th-ranked Georgia Bulldogs another opportunity at the plate as senior outfielder Jacee Blades connected for a triple down the right field line to score Tammy Wray from first to give the Tigers a 5-4 walk-off win in extras Saturday evening at Tiger Park.
After taking its first lead of the day by scoring four runs on two hits in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a three-run bomb by Constance Quinn and an error at short to plate another, the Tigers (23-18, 5-9 SEC) refused to be done in by two errors in the seventh that allowed an unearned Georgia (35-7, 9-5) run to score to tie the game, battling back to put one on in the final frame with a Wray base knock and Blades earning the clutch hit to snap the team’s three-game losing streak and moving LSU teams to 3-0 in its annual “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” game.
“A couple innings before my hit, the ball went under my glove. I felt like it was my fault that we were even in extra innings,” Blades said. “I knew I was going to do whatever I possibly could to keep my team in it. I wasn’t going to back down because everyone worked so hard tonight. Even if I were to just move Tammy Wray to second base, that is what I would have done. I just knew to put the ball to that side, and it played in my favor today.”
Quinn finished the night driving in a career-high three RBI on her second home run of the season with a run scored, while Blades earned her second triple of the season in a 1-for-3 effort with an RBI. Wray’s single down the left field line kick started the Tiger eighth as she went 1-for-2 with a run scored, while Sandra Simmons was rewarded for her bunt single after the home run as she finished 1-for-4 with a run scored. Sahvanna Jaquish provided the team’s first hit in the first and was 1-for-2.
“(Quinn) can really hit,” head coach Beth Torina said. “For her to step up and do that is awesome and amazing. It isn’t something unexpected because I know how good she is. She is a very talented player.”
After allowing a solo and two-run home run in the game, and having a bloop single into left field in the seventh turn into the game-tying run, LSU starter Baylee Corbello stayed the course and earned the complete-game victory finishing the game allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits with six strikeouts to improve to 12-6 on the season.
“(Corbello) has done that all year for us,” Torina said. “Being a freshman in this league is so tough. She has really risen above and done some great things on the mound for us. I am proud of how she goes out and competes every game. She does a great job of staying in there and competing. She has held her own against everyone we have faced all year long.”
Mowing through the Tiger batting order, UGA starting pitcher Geri Ann Glasco began to get touched up by LSU the inning before the runs came for the team, escaping the fifth with the bases loaded on a double play keeping LSU off the board. But in the next inning she would get relieved for Friday starter Chelsea Wilkinson three batters in and that change shifted the tide as Wilkinson gave up the home run and eventually took the loss after allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits with three walks and a strikeout. Glasco pitched 5.1 innings and allowed two runs on a hit with three walks and just one strikeout.
Paige Wilson was the only Bulldog batter to finish with multiple hits as she went 2-for-4. Katie Browne hit the first home run for Georgia as she finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored, while Tina Iosefa went 1-for-4 and hit the two-run jack to finish with two RBI and a run scored.
About to get out of another inning unscathed, Corbello’s first pitch to Brown left the park and gave Georgia the 1-0 lead for the first run of the game.
“I knew Georgia was a good team. I knew they were going to hit bombs,” Corbello said. “I wasn’t completely blinded coming into the game. I knew they were going to hit. My main goal was not to walk anyone and allow a hit. I wanted it to be a solo home run.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Bianka Bell got plunked and snapped a string of nine-straight retired by Georgia to take first, but the inning ended on the next play on a grounder back to the circle.
For the first time all game the Tigers got two runners on base as with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Allison Falcon drew a walk and was followed by the same for Wray. Dylan Supak came on to pinch hit, as Alex Boulet came on to pinch run for Falcon at second, and another walk loaded the bases for the first time for either team on the day. Unfortunately, A.J. Andrews hit a low, sharp liner to short with the short toss to third to end the inning.
A walk to open the top of the sixth put one on for the Bulldogs, and Iosefa went deep into the count and struck another big blow for the second time on the weekend with a two-run shot to center to put Georgia up 3-0.
Glasco plunked Jaquish and Bell in succession to end her night after getting the first out, as Wilkinson came on to pitch for the Bulldogs. That move proved costly as Quinn took the first three pitches and pounced on the fourth, sending a shot to left center to tie the game at three. Simmons hit a bunt single to take first, as Falcon drew a walk to put two back on for LSU.
In a long at-bat that featured 10 pitches, Kailey McCasland hit a grounder that was misplayed at short for the error allowing Simmons to score to give the Tigers their first lead of the series up 4-3.
With the lead in hand heading to the top of the second, a single and error in left put the tying run at second base for Georgia. A liner to left gave UGA one out, with a foul out to left pushing the Bulldogs to their final out. With a 1-1 count, a dribbler that nearly poked through the middle was stopped, but on the resulting throw to first to try and get the out the ball went wide allowing the runner to cross from third to tie the game at 4-4.
After a strikeout, Wray hit a short single down the left field line on a 2-2 pitch to take first. On a 2-1 count for Blades, the next pitch went down the right field line and drifted deep in to foul territory allowing Wray to motor all the way from first to cruise home to score the winning run to even the series at one game apiece.
“We have played a heck of a schedule, one of the toughest in the country. Our kids just continue to battle and compete,” Torina said. “These kinds of games are starting to turn in our favor because of how much we have competed against good competition all year.”
First pitch for the series finale between the Bulldogs and Tigers is set for noon Sunday at Tiger Park.
LSU HEAD COACH BETH TORINA
On the benefits of LSU’s tough schedule this season…
“We have played a heck of a schedule, one of the toughest in the country. Our kids just continue to battle and compete. These kind of games are starting to turn in our favor because of how much we have competed against good competition all year.”
On Constance Quinn‘s three-run home run…
“The kid can hit. It isn’t necessarily that she hasn’t had power hits for us. She just hasn’t had the opportunity because we are so strong in the middle. She can really hit. For her to step up and do that is awesome and amazing. It isn’t something unexpected because I know how good she is. She is a very talented player.”
On Baylee Corbello‘s pitching performance tonight…
“She did a great job. She has done that all year for us. Being a freshman in this league is so tough. She has really risen above and done some great things on the mound for us. I am proud of how she goes out and competes every game. She does a great job of staying in there and competing. She has held her own against everyone we have faced all year long.”
P BAYLEE CORBELLO
On Georgia’s offense battling throughout the game…
“I knew Georgia was a good team. I knew they were going to hit bombs. I wasn’t completely blinded coming into the game. I knew they were going to hit. My main goal was not to walk anyone and allow a hit. I wanted it to be a solo home run.”
On tonight’s win against No. 13 Georgia…
“I knew it would fall through in our favor. I felt tonight was win for us from the get-go.”
IF CONSTANCE QUINN
On her three-run home run to put LSU in the game…
“I am lost without words. That was all God. Coach Dobson told me to stay within the plan, do what we have been telling you to do, lay off the inside, and look out. Honestly, I just saw the ball and hit it. I don’t know if it was in, out or down the plate. I thank God for the hit and that the rest of the team pulled together to get this win tonight.”
On the importance of tonight’s win over Georgia…
“From here on out, we have to win as many games as we can. This win tonight is very important. Hopefully tomorrow we will come in with the same mentality and focus.”
LF JACEE BLADES
On her walk-off triple to defeat No. 13 Georgia…
“A couple innings before my hit, the ball went under my glove. I felt like it was my fault that we were even in extra innings. I knew I was going to do whatever I possibly could to keep my team in it. I wasn’t going to back down because everyone worked so hard tonight. Even if I were to just move Tammy Wray to second base, that is what I would have done. I just knew to put the ball to that side, and it played in my favor today.”
On the importance of tomorrow’s game…
“It is so important. We have a chance to take the series tomorrow. That is what we plan to do.”