In the opener, Kylie McGoldrick hit a pair of home runs and the Hokies were leading UNC 4-3 with two outs in the seventh inning, but the Tar Heels rallied to score five unearned runs to snatch the win away.
McGoldrick led off the first inning with a home run and Lauren Gaskill tripled before being driven in by Amanda Ake’s sacrifice fly. The Tar Heels responded with three runs in the top of the second inning to take the lead, but in the bottom of the second inning, Kat Banks doubled and scored on McGoldrick’s home run to make it 4-3 in favor of the home team.
That’s the way it stood until the top of the seventh inning. UNC’s Kati Causey lifted a fly ball to the gap, but Ake dropped it and that started a UNC rally. With two outs and the tying run on third, Aquila Mateen singled and then the floodgates opened. The Heels sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five unearned runs to grab the 8-4 win.
McGoldrick and Katey Smith each had two hits for Tech while Gaskill and Banks both had one. Kelly Heinz (L, 4-4) went 6.2 innings, allowing eight runs (three earned) on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts. Maggie Tyler got the last out of the seventh inning.
In the second game, the Hokies again jumped out early as Gaskill singled, stole second base and scored on Vanessa Gonzalez’s double to the gap. In the fourth inning, UNC plated a pair of runs, but Dani Anderson drove in Gonzalez to tie it up in the bottom half of the stanza.
With a tie game in the fifth inning, Gaskill reached on a fielder’s choice and then used her speed to manufacture a run. Gonzalez singled up the middle and Gaskill rounded second for third base. The throw from Mateen sailed wide of third base and Gaskill tried to scoot home. The throw beat her there, but UNC was called for obstruction, thus giving Tech the run.
Leading once again by a run going to the seventh, the Hokies again let the lead slip away as UNC used back-to-back doubles from Kristen Brown and Jenna Kelly with two outs to tie it up. This time, with the go-ahead runner on third base, Tyler got a lazy fly ball to set up the stage for the dramatic ending.
Freshman Elizabeth Birle, who had been struggling at the plate early on, cranked a 3-2 pitch the opposite way for a mammoth solo home run to right field to win it for the Hokies, 4-3. It was the first home run for the Florida native.
Gonzalez led the way with a career-high three hits while McGoldrick, Gaskill, Birle, Anderson, Aysha Richardson and Smith had one.
Tyler (W, 4-2) went the distance, allowing three runs on nine hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
Tech (8-6, 1-1 ACC) and UNC (7-8, 1-1 ACC) will wrap up the three-game set with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. to determine the series winner.
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