Engineers sweep Spartans in doubleheader

The Engineers sparred against the Castleton Spartans in a doubleheader at Doris Robison Field on Saturday. Originally scheduled to be played in Vermont, the two games would keep the Spartans at home.

Game 1:

Castleton’s Olivia Joy started on the mound. Joy gave up a walk and a single to the first two batters she faced, putting two runners on base with no outs. During the next at-bat, a short bunt to third base from Engineer Erin Askins ’22 advanced the runners; a perfectly weighted bunt, Askins outran the third baseman’s throw to first to load the bases. Gabby Comeau ’23 stepped into the batter’s box and hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive in a run.

Rensselaer pitcher Erika Holowka ’22 obtained five of her first six outs via strikeout to begin her dominant performance. After a few runless innings, the Engineers managed to extend their lead. Joy walked Askins to begin the top of the fourth. Comeau hit the first pitch of her at-bat down the right field line for a double, driving in Askins from first to put RPI up by two runs. The next batter, Liv Vizzini ’24, ripped a fly ball deep to the fence in left center field. Comeau came in to score and Vizzini replaced her on second base. Brooke Sroczinski ’23 added salt to the wound by bombing a double over the center fielder to score the Engineers’ third run of the inning.

The Spartans would get on the scoreboard in the next half-inning. Holowka gave up two singles to start the bottom of the fourth. A double from Castleton’s Kylie Wright scored the runner from second and advanced the other to third. With two runners in scoring position and no outs, a composed Holowka struck out the following three batters to retire the side, escaping a potential catastrophe.

Katie Gallagher replaced Joy on the mound for Castleton to start the fifth inning. With runners on first and second with two outs, Vizzini stepped up to the plate. With a 2‒2 count, Vizzini hit a line drive down the left field line to clear the bases, giving RPI a 6‒1 lead.

The two teams headed into the bottom of the seventh with the same score, Castleton with only three outs remaining. Holowka struck out the first batter swinging after a 10-pitch at-bat. The RPI pitcher followed up the strikeout with a walk but forced the next batter to hit a pop-up into foul territory. The runner on first took off and, thinking the ball would clear the fence, slowed down and stopped on second base. Shortstop Catherine Worthington ’23 made the catch and the Castleton base runner had to book it back to first to avoid being thrown out. Worthington’s throw beat the Spartan to the bag for a double play to end the first game of the doubleheader. Click here for the box score.

Holowka pitched all seven innings and earned the win to bring her record to 5‒3 on the season. In her complete game, she totalled a career-high 11 strikeouts and only gave up two extra-base hits. Holowka’s ERA on the season is down to 2.86 due to her phenomenal pitching performance.

Game 2:

Kylie Wright started on the mound for the Spartans, Alexis Cooke ’23 for the Engineers. RPI took an early lead in the top of the second. Vizzini started the inning by hitting a single past the third baseman into left field, advancing after Sroczinski dropped down a sacrifice bunt. A single from Chloe Lewandowski advanced Vizzini to third, putting runners on the corners with only one out. Caroline Peel ’24 hammered a hard ground ball into right field past a diving second baseman, bringing Vizzini in to score, the only run the Engineers would score in the second. In the bottom half of the inning, Cooke retired the side in order with two strikeouts and a groundout.

After a runless third inning, RPI was again up to bat. Sroczinski reached base on a walk, and a sacrifice bunt from Lewandowski advanced her to second base. Peel stepped up to the plate and lobbed a blooper over the head of the second baseman to score Sroczinski from second, putting the Engineers up by two.

The Spartans climbed back into it on their first at-bat in the following half-inning when Jamie Boyle cranked a home run to left center field. Deja vu for Cooke on the mound, the first batter she faced in the next inning swung for the fences as well. Castleton’s Allison Almond cannoned a homer, identical to Boyle’s in the previous inning, to tie the game up at 2‒2.

In the top of the sixth inning, Vizzini slapped a triple down the right field line to put the Engineers 60 feet away from retaking the lead. Megan Wampner came in to pinch run for Vizzini, hoping to give RPI a better chance of beating out a throw to the plate. Sroczinski hit a ground ball to the shifted shortstop, and the subsequent throw beat Wampner to home to prevent the Engineers from scoring. A single from Lewandowski on the following play advanced Sroczinski to third. Runners on the corners with two outs, Peel drilled a ground ball, which the third baseman failed to field cleanly. With no throw, Sroczinski trotted to the plate to score the go-ahead run for the Engineers.

Sroczinski replaced Cooke on the mound for RPI to close out the game. She immediately forced the first batter to line out and stuck the second out looking. The next batter blasted a triple to right field, nearly blowing the save for Sroczinski. The RPI pitcher struck out the final batter of the sixth to keep the Engineers in front. Failing to add the cushion of extra runs to their score, RPI retook the field with a one-run lead for the final half-inning. Sroczinski walked the first batter and a sacrifice bunt put a runner in scoring position. She struck out the following batter swinging, bringing the Engineers just one out away from another victory. The game was sealed when a Spartan grounded to shortstop for the final out.

Cooke earned the win, and Sroczinski the save, in the second game of the doubleheader. With the two wins on Saturday, the Engineers’ record this season becomes 8‒8. Click here for the box score.

GABBY COMEAU '23 PREPARES to catch a pitch. Katherine Barney/The Polytechnic