Things did not go quite as well for Kelsey Dominik as she would have liked.
With double-digit winds in the air in Ambler, PA the freshman had trouble keeping Charlotte in the park all game, surrendering seven runs off three long balls.
Fortunately for the Owls’ (10-14, 2-1 Atlantic 10 Conference) de facto ace, her offense did just as much damage in a 9-7 win over the 49ers (14-11, 2-1 A-10).
Dominik had her worst outing of the season despite picking up the her team-leading fifth win. While she was able to go the distance for the fourth time in her past five starts she surrendered a career-high seven earned runs, three homers and 11 hits. She did walk just one but struck out only two batters on the day, both by the fourth inning.
“She did a good job,” coach Joe DiPietro said. “She just got the ball down the middle of the plate too much… Up here, if you throw one down the middle especially against a good offensive team like Charlotte, they’re going to hit it.”
But the offense had her back from the outset. After coughing up a two-run shot to junior catcher Chelsea Ingersoll in the top of the first the Owls responded in the bottom half with two of their own thanks to an RBI single by junior shortstop Sarah Prezioso and an RBI double by junior catcher Stephanie Pasquale.
“I thought they did a really good job,” DiPietro said. “[Senior centerfielder] Ali Robinson had a great at bat where she fouled off a lot of pitches and then walked.”
After the 2-2 start in the opening frame both offenses stayed relatively silent for a time. From the third through fifth innings Dominik was able to retired eight straight batters.
But the floodgates opened up in the bottom of the fifth. After a Robinson foul out Prezioso and Pasquale connected on back-to-back solo shots, forcing the 49ers to pull junior Katie Watkins for sophomore Chelsea Lisikatos. But the Owls kept up the attack, with two singles leading to a three-run blast by junior third baseman Devynne Nelons.
“The biggest hit of the game was Devynne Nelons’s three-run homer, because she’s really, really been struggling,” DiPietro said.
Charlotte responded with Dominik pitching with her first lead of the game in the top of the sixth with their second homerun of the afternoon, another two-run shot by Ingersoll to make it 7-4.
Prezioso countered in the home half with her second homerun of the game—giving her seven on the season—with a two-run shot to right center, knocking in Robinson.
“The key is we both can hit,” DiPietro said. “Both teams are very good offensive teams… I just think it was a battle of two really good offenses.”
But Dominik continued to have some trouble with her command trying to close out the game in the seventh. Despite a 9-4 lead the 49ers were able to make a run once again.
With one done Charlotte played small ball before a three run blast by senior leftfielder Briana Gwaltney made it just a two-run contest. Dominik managed to settle down with the bases empty, forcing the final two outs to seal her fifth win of the season.
DiPietro contemplated pulling his ace but decided not to as the bases were cleared due to the homerun and there was no immediate threat on the bases.
“I thought she earned the right to stay in there at the end,” DiPietro said. “It was Kelsey’s game and I’m glad she was able to finish it out.”
The win pushes the Owls to 2-1 in conference play, something that DiPietro is far more comfortable with given his team’s play leading up to the A-10 season.
“I thought this was a huge win for us,” DiPietro said. “If we would have lost both of these games, coming out of the shoot 1-3, we would have had a hard road… [Charlotte’s] going to have to come out and win tomorrow.”
The teams close out the two-game series tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.