Contact: Jeff Sattora
Chicago- Despite a seventh inning home run by senior Horizon League `Player of the Year' Dara Toman, the Cleveland State Vikings were unable to complete a late comeback Wednesday afternoon, falling 4-3 in the opening game of the 2013 Horizon League tournament to the Wright State Raiders in Chicago.
The fourth seeded Vikings and fifth seeded Raiders were even much of the day, as the score stayed within three runs throughout. The two teams stayed scoreless through the first two innings of play before the third inning saw both squads get on the board.
Wright State did their damage first, picking up a 1-0 lead in the top half of the inning against CSU pitcher Susan Knight. Angie Clark put the first Wright State runner on base with a one-out walk. She then advanced to scoring position at second base on the inning's second out, a groundout to short. With two outs in the inning and Hanna Floyd up to bat, a fly ball to right field just got away from CSU freshman Alyson Broschk allowing Clark to come around to score and give Wright State the lead.
After holding the Raiders to one run in the top half of the frame CSU was able to come back with one run of their own in the bottom of the inning. The pitcher Knight led things off for the Vikings, where she reached on an error by the Wright State pitcher. CSU then utilized its speed off the bench as freshman Darien Ward came in to pinch run for Knight. The move paid off as she advanced to second on a wild pitch to put a runner in scoring position. With no outs a Janessa Rivera-Keahi sacrifice bunt to the first base side advanced Ward to third, putting the pressure on Wright State with one out. Cleveland State took advantage of that chance as the next batter Katelind Phillips reached on a fielder's choice that scored Ward to tie things at one all.
The two teams stayed even at 1-1 until the fifth inning when Wright State jumped ahead for good. While Susan Knight struck out the first batter of the frame, back-to-back singles by Reagan Stofcheck and Lindsay Barrett put two runners on with one out. A second strikeout of Clark gave the CSU defense two outs but the Raiders would not go down easy. Jess Gorman drilled a two-out three-run homer to left center to give the five seed a 4-1 advantage.
Despite the deficit Cleveland State did make it interesting late with a rally. Dara Toman drilled her 15th homer of the season, a two run shot to center field in the bottom of the seventh, to cut the lead to one. Unfortunately though for the Vikings they were unable to tack on any more runs, as the rally fell just short.
The loss pushes the fourth-seeded Vikings to the loser's bracket in the double-elimination tournament where they will play tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. ET versus an opponent to be determined. With the win Wright State, the bracket's fifth seed, advances to play the league's regular season champion and tournament host UIC.