RIVERSIDE, Calif. – After UC Riverside took a 5-0 lead, Cortney Smith tied the contest that scored Kiki Pepi in the sixth inning, but the Highlanders’ (4-6) Sarah Parten drew a bases loaded walk in the eighth inning to down the Miners (2-10), 6-5, on a brisk and breezy Saturday afternoon on the second day of the Riverside Classic.
UTEP started its rally in the fifth inning when Courtney Clayton singled to right on a 1-0, one-out pitch. Lindsey Sokoloski followed with a single of her own while Pepi drew her first walk of afternoon to load the bases. Taylor Sargent reached on a fielder’s choice as Sokoloski was thrown out at second, but it paved the way for Pepi to put the Miners on board for the first time in the contest.
Smith, who’s had a hot bat to begin her sophomore campaign, connected on a hard two-run double to deep center, plating Clayton and Sargent. Hope Moreno and Kaitlin Ryder drew back-to-back walks to load the bases for Macey Brown. But the freshman popped out to the short stop to end the rally.
The sixth inning was almost a recreation of the previous frame as Clayton singled with one out and Pepi walked with two outs. Sargent’s single scored Clayton and Smith’s knock to left plated Pepi to tie the contest.
In the top seventh, Pamala Baber drew a one-out walk on a full count and freshman Mallorie Cross singled on 1-2 pitch to the shortstop. Clayton came to the plate and on a 2-2 pitch, drilled one towards left center, but UC Riverside shortstop Hannah Rodriguez made a leaping snag for the second out and then tagged out Baber at second base to end the top half.
Devyn Cretz, who was inserted into the circle in the sixth inning, retired the side after she recorded strikeouts four and five for outs two and three to head into extra frames.
When playing nonconference games, international rules apply. Clayton, who was the last out for the Miners, was placed at second base. Sokoloski used a sac-bunt to advance Clayton to third base. But Highlander hurler Anessa Cepeda used a strikeout and groundout to end the top half.
As walks have plagued UTEP this season, UC Riverside loaded the bases with two outs and Parten was patient at the plate to register the game-winning RBI on a full count pitch.
The Miners used clutch hitting, as they scored two of their runs with one out, and the other three runs with two outs.
The 12 hits today were a season high, as Smith recorded a career high in hits (3-for-4) and tied her career best with three RBI. Clayton crossed home plate twice after a 2-for-4 outing. She has reached base on 10 consecutive games this season. Clayton also registered her 46th-career multi-hit game and fourth this season. Pepi went 2-for-3 with a pair of walks and Sargent registered two RBI.
Cretz (1-3) hurled 2.2 frames, walked two and fanned five. Kaitlin Fifield tossed 3.2 innings and starting pitcher Taylor Grohmann threw 1.1 innings.
UTEP will conclude the weekend against Utah State on Sunday (11:30 p.m. PT). The Miners defeated the Aggies 7-5 on Friday behind Erika Harrawood’s performance (6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 Ks), while she earned her first career victory.