NEW PALTZ, N.Y.- The SUNY Geneseo softball team clinched a spot in the SUNYAC playoffs Friday with a 2-4, 7-2 (nine innings) doubleheader split against New Paltz. Junior Cat Krok had a key pinch-hit game-tying double in the top of seventh to send the second game into extra frames while sophomore Abby Dennett and junior Courtney Budynas each had four hits on the day.
The first-game loss snapped Geneseo's consecutive win streak at 18 games, second-longest in program history. The Knights' record now stands at 23-10, the most wins since 2010, and their 12-4 SUNYAC record currently has them in second place heading into the regular season's last weekend.
Game 1: New Paltz 4, Geneseo 2
The Knights outhit the Hawks 11-3, but left nine runners on bases to lose their first game since April 2. Junior Mikayla Moore and first-year Emily Martin matched Dennett and Budynas with two hits in the opener.
Geneseo scored the game's first run in the top of the second on back-to-back two-out doubles by Dennett and Moore. The host Hawks (17-14, 9-7) responded with three in the bottom of the inning, two coming on a home run off senior starter Corrin Spallone.
Down 3-1, the Knights threatened in the next two innings but failed to put any runs on the scoreboard. In the top of the third they had the bases loaded with no out, while in the fourth they put runners on second and third with one out and in both cases came out of the inning scoreless.
Geneseo added a run in the fifth but had the tying run thrown out at the plate. Budynas led off with single and moved to second on passed ball. Senior Kayleigh Blersch singled through the left side, advancing Budynas to third. After the Hawks recorded the first out of the inning, Krok doubled to right center, scoring one, but pinch-runner sophomore Melissa Belsky was tagged out at home trying to score.
New Paltz pushed the lead back to 4-2 in the bottom of the frame on a walk and a triple. Third baseman Krok prevented another run when she gloved a line drive and doubled the runner off third unassisted.
The Knights threatened in the top of the seventh when Martin led off with a double to left-center. But after a pitching change for the Hawks, the next Geneseo batters went down in order.
Spallone (13-5) allowed four runs, three earned, on only three hits, walking two and matched her season-high with nine strikeouts.
Game 2: Geneseo 7, New Paltz 2 (9 innings)
The Knights again outhit the Hawks by a sizeable margin (15-4) but were within a pair of outs of dropping game two when Krok's double sent the game into extra innings. Geneseo finally broke the game open with five runs in the top of the ninth, with the game-winning RBI coming on a two-run single by Belsky. Blersch had three hits for the Knights, while Moore went the full nine innings on the mound.
After leaving runners in scoring position in the first two frames, Geneseo scored in the third to take a 1-0 lead. Budynas' two-out double to left-center scored junior Jenna Phillips, who got on base via error.
New Paltz took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth with a pair of unearned runs. The score remained unchanged into the top of the seventh. With one out and senior Sami Brown on first after a fielder's choice, Dennett singled through the left side, advancing Brown to second. Krok followed with her pinch-hit double to knot the game at two.
The Hawks almost won the game in the bottom of the seventh. Two New Paltz runners were thrown out trying to score the decisive run after base hits, the first on a rundown between third and home after a relay from sophomore rightfielder Alyssa Presutti and the second when centerfielder Blersch threw out the runner at home plate.
The Knights loaded the bases with one out in the top of the eighth but failed to score. Geneseo finally broke through in the top of the ninth. With two outs and first-year Julia Lalka on base with a pinch-hit single, the Hawks had a chance to record the third out, but a throwing error extended the inning. With runners at second and third Belsky singled up the middle to make it 4-2. Blersch, Presutti, Brown and Dennett followed with consecutive base hits to produce the final 7-2 margin.
Moore (9-3) went all nine innings, allowing two runs, one earned, on four hits, while walking seven and striking out eight.
The win, combined with other Friday SUNYAC results, clinched a playoff spot for Geneseo. The Knights close out their regular season on Saturday April 25th with a doubleheader at Oneonta starting at 12 p.m. The two teams are in a tight race for second place in the conference, which comes with a first-round bye in the conference tournament.