Morning Offense, Evening Heroics Vault Eureka to Monday Sweep

Morning Offense, Evening Heroics Vault Eureka to Monday Sweep

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Eureka College freshman Gabby Wood (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) pitched 4.0 scoreless innings to earn her first collegiate win in EC's 10-0 victory over Mary Baldwin (Va.) Monday morning and sophomore Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) capped Eureka's three-run seventh-inning rally with a walk-off single in a 5-4 evening win over Penn College at the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The victories improved the Red Devils to 4-0 for the second time in the last three seasons and just the third time since 1996. Eureka has outscored its opponents 23-4 over the first two days of the 2018 spring trip.

The Red Devils entered the seventh inning of Monday's late game against Penn College trailing 4-2. Morgan Osborn (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) started the rally with an infield single and Kali George (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) followed suit with a single into center field. A groundout moved the runners into scoring position for Wood, who trimmed the EC deficit to 4-3 with an infield single to score Osborn. Two batters later, Smith guided a single into right field to plate George and Wood for EC's improbable 5-4 win.

The late rally against PC marked the third time the Red Devils had to erase a deficit Monday night. Danielle Brittain's (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) infield single, coupled with a PC throwing error, forced a 1-1 deadlock in the bottom of the second inning. The Red Devils also trailed 2-1 in the fifth until Osborn's line drive to left field scored Courtney Kurtz (Minooka, Ill./Minooka H.S.) for a 2-2 tie.

The Wildcats regained a 3-2 lead in the sixth and put further pressure on the Red Devils when Alyssa Gentile's pinch-hit RBI double increased PC's lead to 4-2 in the top of the seventh. EC answered the challenge with three runs in the bottom half of the frame to equal its best start to a season in more than two decades.

Wood had three hits in the evening victory over PC. Osborn and George each tacked on two hits. All 10 of the Red Devils' hits were singles. George threw 118 pitches over 7.0 innings and secured her second win in as many days.

In the early game against Mary Baldwin, Eureka sent 10 batters to the plate in the top of the first inning to set the tone for its third consecutive shutout victory. Osborn drove in the first run of the game with a single and later scored on a passed ball for a 2-0 EC lead. Wood also drove in a run with a single and Brittain coaxed a bases-loaded walk for a 4-0 Eureka lead.

The lead expanded to 5-0 in the fifth when Brittain walked again with the bases loaded. The Red Devils further blew the game open with a five-run seventh inning. Brittain and Kerrigan Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) strung together back-to-back RBI singles to push the lead to 7-0 before Kurtz and Osborn followed with consecutive run-scoring doubles to stretch Eureka's cushion to 10-0.

Wood had three of Eureka's 11 hits. Brittain drove in three. All nine Eureka starters in the batting order reached base via a hit or a walk.

Wood and Erin Smith (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) combined for Eureka's third consecutive shutout in the pitching circle. Wood allowed two hits and struck out five over 4.0 innings to earn the victory. Smith scattered three hits over 3.0 innings of work. Eureka's middle-infield defense of Dura and George teamed up for a 6-4-3 double play to end MBU's bases-loaded threat in the third inning and allowed the Red Devils to push their scoreless streak to 21 innings.

Eureka will have an off-day Tuesday before returning to the diamond for a pair of contests Wednesday in North Myrtle Beach. The Red Devils will play Eastern Mennonite (Va.) Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. before a 2:30 p.m. bout with Cedar Crest (Pa.). Two wins Wednesday would give EC its first 6-0 start since 1990.