AMES, Iowa—South Dakota hung by a thread all game and Purdue finally cut it with a game-tying run in the seventh and the winning run in the eighth in a 4-3 decision Thursday in the opening game of the NISC regional at Cyclone Sports Complex.
The Boilermakers (32-27) avenged an earlier 4-2 loss to the Coyotes (33-27) back in February and advanced to face Iowa State Thursday at 4 p.m. South Dakota will face the loser of game two, South Dakota State and Eastern Kentucky, at 10 a.m. Friday.
Purdue trailed 3-2 thru three innings and heading into their final at bat despite threatening with runners in scoring position in all but the first inning. Lexi Huffman led off the bottom of the seventh with a double and scored one batter later on a base hit by Kaitlynn Moody to tie the game a 3-3. Sydney Bates pinch ran for Moody and was later thrown out at the plate by USD right fielder Courtney Wilson to end the inning.
USD was held scoreless in the top of the eighth, and the top of Purdue’s lineup set the table for Bates who delivered a walk-off single to right with one out and the bases loaded. It was just the 11th hit of the season for Bates, the Boilers’ ace pitcher, who was 10-for-56 at the plate entering play.
South Dakota chased Moody, Purdue’s starting pitcher, with three runs in the top of the third. After leaving them loaded against Moody in the second, Jamie Holscher tied the game at 1-1 with a double to left center. Dustie Durham followed suit with a two-run double to right that scored Holscher and Jessica Rogers.
Purdue turned to senior pitcher Maddie Damon and the move paid off in spades. Damon was 1-6 with an ERA of 4.99 in 22 appearances during the regular season, but was brilliant against the Coyotes. She stranded Durham on second in the third, survived USD’s squeeze bunt in the fourth and didn’t allow a Coyote to reach second the rest of the way. Damon tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings, gave up five hits, struck out four and walked no one.
Coyote pitcher Alexis Devers labored through the first six innings and couldn’t get the insurance she needed. Rogers threw out a runner trying to steal with a runner on third to end the third inning, Devers got a fly ball to center with the bases loaded to end the fourth, and left two runners on in the fifth and sixth. She walked six, but only a lead-off walk to start the third came around to score. She went the distance, allowing 14 hits and striking out three.
Durham and Lauren Eamiguel were each 2-for-4 for South Dakota, which totaled nine hits. Eamiguel had two hits off Damon, but left early trying to steal second in the sixth and was caught stealing in the eighth.
It was the third meeting between the two programs in the last two years. Purdue has won two of three.