OTTAWA — With 12 days since their last contest, it wouldn't have been shocking if the Marquette Lady Crusaders were a tad rusty in Monday afternoon's game against visiting Morris here at June Gross Field.
However, that wasn't the case as the locals took the lead in the first inning, made a trio of great catches in the field throughout the game and received a solid pitching performance from junior Makenna Tkach in the circle.
But Morris was able to tie the game in the second and then take the lead for good on Claire Gugerty's solo home run in the fourth to drop Marquette to an even 3-3 on the season with a 2-1 defeat.
"We had our opportunities for sure today against a Morris team that is a very good-hitting team and well-coached," said Marquette coach Dave Tkach, his club leaving five of seven runners in scoring position. "We needed to put the ball on the bat better than we did.
"The bunting game went for us early and then against us late. I told the girls before the game to not be surprised if they saw the bunt sign even with two strikes, because in close games you do what you have to do."
Marquette jumped to a 1-0 lead in the opening frame off of winning pitcher Gigi Corban. Lefty slugger Allie Snook lined a two-out single to center and moved to second on Makena McConnaughhay's grounder that was erred by the shortstop. Ellen Wheatland then pushed a bunt past a charging Morris first baseman and to the hole vacated by the second baseman covering first, which allowed Snook to ramble home from second.
"The run (Corban) gave up in the first inning should have never happened, but we made a couple mistakes there that led to that," said Morris coach Jen Bamonte. "Today was a 100-percent pitching duel, but we were able to get the key hits when we needed to."
Morris (8-4) quickly tied things up in the second as Rachel Trader was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Gugerty and scored on a double into the left-center field gap of the bat of Abbey Moore. The visitors then scored what proved to be the game's winning run in the fourth when Gugerty launched a two-out, two-strike pitch well over the fence in straightaway left.
"That's already her third home run of the year," said Bamonte. "She's a junior and always had the power there, but she has just been behind on the ball and not seeing it completely to the bat. It's early on in the season, but it is definitely something I expect from her."
The Lady Crusaders put runners in scoring position in the next two innings, but were unable to come up with a two-out hit to bring them in. For the day, Marquette was 1-for-8 with runners on either second or third.
Tkach suffered the loss despite allowing just five hits, not issuing a walk and striking out seven. Corban was just as good, fanning eight while walking one — that being intentional.
"I thought she pitched well," said Coach Tkach of his daughter. "(Morris) was able to get the bat on a couple really good two-strike pitches, but good hitters are going to do that."
"(Tkach) is really good, and you have to give credit where credit is due," Bamonte said. "Last year we faced her and hit the ball very well, but I can tell that she is night and day different this year. Her natural movement on the ball is up, and you could tell by the popups we had. Her ball was hopping on our girls ... I mean (No. 3 hitter) Ashley Phelps hadn't struck out all year until today.
"It was a day for pitchers without a doubt, and I thought they both really threw the ball well."
At June Gross Field, Ottawa
Morris 2, Marquette 1
MORRIS (2) — O. Schultz 3b 3-0-0-0, Dransfeldt ss 3-0-0-0, Phelps 1b 3-0-1-1, Trader c 2-0-1-0, Hood cr 0-1-0-0, Gugerty cf 2-1-1-1, Moore rf 3-0-2-1, Nelson dp 3-0-0-0, Doss lf-flex 0-0-0-0, Gerischer 2b 3-0-0-0, Corban p 3-0-0-0. Totals 25-2-5-2.
MARQUETTE (1) — E. Owens c 4-0-1-0, Tkach p 4-0-1-0, Snook 1b 2-1-1-0, McConnaughhay 3b 3-0-0-0, Wheatland ss 3-0-2-1, McCallum lf 3-0-1-0, Martini 2b 1-0-0-0, Cowie dp 2-0-0-0, Thomas cf-flex 1-0-0-0, A. Owens rf 3-0-1-0. Totals 26-1-7-1.
Morris (8-4) 010 100 0 — 2 5 2
Marquette (3-3) 100 000 0 — 1 7 0
LOB — Morris 4, Marquette 7. 2B — Moore. HR — Gugerty. SAC — Gugerty, Martini 2. HBP — Trader (by Tkach).
Morris ip h r er bb k
Corban (W) 7.0 7 1 0 1 8
Tkach (L) 7.0 5 2 2 0 7