POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Apr 30, 2011
Alex Aguirre didn’t make great contact.
But it was enough.
Aguirre’s looping single into right field with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th gave the Hawaii softball team a 3-2 win over New Mexico State last night, ending Hawaii’s longest game of the season and a four-game losing streak.
“The way things have been going it was just something we really needed tonight,” Aguirre said. “We never stopped believing. That’s what we kept saying in the huddle, we believe.”
UH (31-16, 9-7) opened the three-game Western Athletic Conference series by clinching a spot in the conference tournament and snapping first-place New Mexico State’s school-record 10-game winning streak.
UH right-hander Stephanie Ricketts went the distance, striking out 10 while throwing 175 pitches in her longest outing of the season.
“Whenever you have tough games like this makes you better,” Ricketts said.
“I felt pretty good (in the late innings). I wasn’t about to question myself, not looking at what inning it was. I felt like I had the same stuff in the 10th as I had in the first.”
UH closes the home schedule with a doubleheader today starting at 4 p.m.
New Mexico State (37-13, 14-2) entered the series with the WAC’s most productive offense at .344 with 65 home runs and seven starters hitting .320 or better.
But Ricketts shut them out until the Aggies scratched out a run with two out in the top of the seventh to extend the game. NMSU took the lead in the eighth, but UH shortstop Jessica Iwata tied it with an RBI double in the bottom of the inning.
UH loaded the bases with one out in the 10th and won it on Aguirre’s single.
“It was an interesting game in that both of us had so many opportunities to win the ballgame,” UH head coach Bob Coolen said. “And it was great that Stephanie and our players made the plays.”
UH took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Sharla Kliebenstein ended an 0-for-17 stretch by moving into the team’s home run lead with her 12th of the season, a solo shot to center.
Ricketts threw 51⁄3 no-hit innings and retired 13 consecutive batters before giving up a line-drive single to center to Kandis Jones. She got out of the inning with the lead, but the Aggies scratched out a run in the top of the seventh.
Ashley Maroda led off with a single to center after a strikeout. Brittany Clifton and Tehani Kaaihue walked to load the bases. Ricketts struck out Kylie Randall on three pitches and Jones hit a slow grounder to second. Dara Pagaduan charged the ball as Kaaihue passed in front of her and bobbled it as Shaleese Javillo (pinch-running for Maroda) scored the tying run.
The game went into the eighth and Teresa Conrad doubled to left with one out. After a walk, Valerie Swedberg drilled a single into left field to score Conrad with the go-ahead run.
The Wahine got out of the inning on a bizarre double play, thanks to a base-running mix-up by the Aggies, and Jasey Jensen reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the eighth. Iwata then doubled to right center to score Jensen with the tying run.
After a scoreless ninth, Iwata led off the bottom of the 10th with a single to center and Jenna Rodriguez grounded a single into right to move Iwata to third. With one out, Kliebenstein was hit to load the bases and Aguirre ended it.
“The at-bat before that we had runners in scoring position and I kind of blooped it to the second baseman and I just needed to get my hands out a little more to put it through the infield,” Aguirre said.
“I wanted to push it to the right side because Jess is fast, so I knew if I put it in the right spot I knew she’d score.”
|NMSU (37-13, 14-2)||000||000||110||0||— 2||6||2|
|UH (31-16, 9-7)||010||000||010||1||— 3||9||2|