NEWTON, Mass. – Tuesday afternoon's home opener for the Mount Ida College softball team started with a pitching duel and ended with a dramatic extra inning walk-off as the Mustangs split a doubleheader with Eastern Nazarene College in non-conference action at Mount Ida Softball Field.
The Mustangs were hard-luck losers in game one, falling 1-0, and then took nine innings to beat the Lions 6-5 after the visitors erased a 4-2 Mount Ida lead in the top of the seventh.
Game One: Eastern Nazarene 1, Mount Ida 0
Nicole Handzel (Palmer, Mass.) struck out ten batters and neither starting pitcher allowed an earned run, but a Mount Ida miscue in the top of the first led to the only run of the game as both hurlers would put up zero after zero for the remainder of the tilt.
The Lions scored a run without the benefit of a hit, of which Handzel allowed just two. Viviana Coix (Warrenville, Ill.) drew a one-out walk, advanced on a wild pitch, and then scored on a throwing error off the bat of first baseman Emily Gomez (Floral Park, N.Y.).
Handzel eventually struck out the side in the first inning and struck out five batters through the first two frames en route to her double-digit strikeout performance.
Equally impressive was Lions starter Heidi Gomez (Floral Park, N.Y.), who threw a complete game shutout, allowing just three hits and two walks with nine strikeouts of her own.
Game Two: Mount Ida 6, Eastern Nazarene 5, 9 innings
Placed at second to start the ninth, Handzel came around to score the winning run on a single to center field by Lucianna Medici (Riverside, R.I.), delivering the extra innings victory after each team scored in the eighth inning and then Hayley Microulis (Pawtucket, R.I.) worked around an error to keep Eastern Nazarene off the board in the top of the ninth.
Microulis (1-3) earned her first win of the year despite giving up two runs in the top of the seventh after Mount Ida had scored three runs in the third inning and led 4-2 into the final frame.
Medici had three hits in the game, and Microulis had two hits and drove in two runs, one on a single to left field in the third and another with a double in the bottom of the fourth to keep the Mustang cushion at two after Eastern Nazarene got on the board with a two run double by catcher Lauren Clements (Garrison, Texas).
Heidi Gomez, who tossed all nine innings of game two as well, began the rally for the Lions in the seventh with a single and eventually scored an unearned run on a throwing error after a sacrifice bunt by Meghan Stanley (Bedford, Mass.).
Kaitlyn Jimenez (Meriden, Conn.) added an RBI fielder's choice to tie the game at four.
In the first extra frame, Clements picked up another RBI with a groundout to score Coix, while the Mustangs wasted no time in plating their run, as placed runner Jenni Jackson (Marlboro, Mass.) came around on a sacrifice bunt that was dropped by the Lions at first base.
Handzel struck out six more batters in her first five innings of work, allowing two earned runs, while Microulis gave up just one hit in four innings, and all three of her runs were unearned.
Gomez struck out eight more Mustangs but fell to 4-6 after giving up four earned runs on eight hits.
Mount Ida (3-7) begins Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) play on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Johnson & Wales for a doubleheader at 12:00 pm, a rematch of last year's first round of the conference tournament.
The Lions (6-10) return to Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) play on Friday when they travel to Nichols at 3:00 pm.