In the immortal words of hall of fame announcer Jack Buck, “We’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Well, actually it will be Tuesday morning, but the message is the same — a championship will go to a decisive game.
Defending champion and No. 1 Tufts (Massachusetts) and Salisbury (Maryland) split games on Monday in the NCAA Division III Softball Championship best-of-three series.
Thus, a third game is on tap at 11 a.m. at Suddenlink Field on the campus of UT Tyler.
The winner is national champion.
On Monday, with the American flags dotting the ballpark in honor of Memorial Day, Salisbury won Game 1, 2-1, but the Jumbos would not go away and won Game 2, 6-0, in 14 innings.
Tufts coach Cheryl Milligan was happy the way her team battled back in Game 2.
“Both (Salisbury) pitchers (Rachel Johnson and Kathryn Larson) are tough,” Milligan said. “I thought we didn’t recover from Game 1 very well at the beginning of the second game. There were a couple of hairy moments.”
Salisbury coach Margie Knight, whose club is 44-4, also noted the excellent effort of all the pitchers, her standouts Johnson and Larson along with Tufts’ All-American Allyson Fournier.
Fournier hurled 287 pitches for the 46-4 Jumbos.
Both teams had multiple opportunities to end the game, but stellar pitching by Larson and Johnson as well as Fournier kept goose eggs on the board.
Fournier retired the final 17 Sea Gulls in the game and allowed just five hits.
In the eighth inning, the Sea Gulls had their best chance to complete the sweep for the national title, loading the bases.
Molly Simpson began the inning with an infield single. Molly Gijioli, hitting for Larson, reached on an error.
Caitlin Lake pinch run for Simpson. The runners moved up on a groundout by Harley Hill.
Angelia McDowell loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice as the throw went to third, but Lake got back to the back safely.
Kim Dorsey was next, but the All-American grounded to shortstop on a full court and Christina Raso fired home to get Lake for the second out.
Paige Knussman then popped up to the Fournier to end the inning.
“That was one of the hairy moments,” Milligan said. “I trust Allyson in any situation. We could have done a better job behind her and the bases would not have been loaded. She always rises to the occasion.”
In the top of the 14th with two outs, the Jumbos came through.
The Sea Gulls intentionally walked power hitter Jo Clair a fifth time to reach Cassie Ruscz.
The previous four occasions the strategy worked, but the fifth time Ruscz cashed in, delivering a two-run double to lift to bring in two runs and start the six-run outburst.
Just as all-tournament long, Johnson shined in the circle.
She limited the high-scoring Jumbos to just six hits and only one run.
Knussman, one of the top hitters of the tourney, had a 3 for 3 outing for the Sea Gulls, along with an RBI. She blasted a solo homer to tie the game at 1-1.
Kim Dorsey, Angela Malgieri and Molly Simpson all had hits.
Simpson also had an RBI, putting the Sea Gulls on top in the top of the fourth.
Clair led the Jumbos with a hit and RBI, while Sara Hedtler, Bri Keenan, Summer Horowitz, Gracie Marshall and Raso had hits.
The Sea Gulls handed Fournier her first loss of the season in the circle.