May 20, 2005
ATHENS, Ga. – Senior Katie Donovan drove in the game-winning run in the ninth inning and senior Jessica Sallinger (28-7) threw a complete-game four-hitter, striking out eight, to lead No. 17 Georgia Tech (50-12) past Kansas (30-21), 3-1 in nine innings, at the NCAA Athens Regional on Friday night.
“First of all, we’d like to tip our caps to Kansas,” said head coach Ehren Earleywine. “They played a great game, and you hate to see anybody lose a hard fought game like that. We had another great pitching performance from Jessica Sallinger and had some timely hits.”
Sallinger, a native of Kennesaw, Ga., broke the Atlantic Coast Conference’s record in career innings pitched (988.2), pushing her total to 994.2. She already holds the ACC record in strikeouts (1,386) and wins (109).
The Jayhawks’ Serena Settlemier (13-9) worked 8 and 1/3 strong innings, allowing three earned runs and struck out five in the loss. She also led Kansas at the plate, going 2-for-4, with a home run and one RBI.
Tech’s Sallinger and KU’s Settlemier had a pitcher’s duel working as neither team managed much of an offensive threat through the first five innings. Sallinger did not allow a runner in scoring position, while the Jackets had one runner in scoring position in the second inning, but could not capitalize.
Lever ended the scoring drought for the Yellow Jackets in the top of the sixth inning with a two-out RBI base hit up the middle to score Kumar who reached on a single to left field and moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt off the bat of freshman Aileen Morales.
Settlemier tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with a two-out home run to left field to snap a 26 scoreless innings streak by Sallinger and send the game to extra innings as Tech and KU were knotted at 1-1.
The Jackets committed back-to-back errors on a ground ball to second base and a bunt back to the pitcher that was thrown away as the Jayhawks had runners at first and second and no outs in the bottom of the eighth inning. KU sacrificed the runners over to second and third with one out. After Tech elected to allow three foul balls drop in left field, Sallinger rewarded the decision with a big strikeout and the Jackets registered the final out of the inning at home plate on a nifty toss by third baseman Donovan to advance the game to the ninth inning.
Junior Christine Sheridan led off the top of the ninth with a base hit to center field and moved over to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Junior Amy Hosier drew a walk to put runners at first and second for Tech and the Jayhawks brought in a new pitcher, Christina Ross. Ross tallied a strikeout for the second out of the inning, but Donovan singled to right field to drive in the go ahead run. The Jackets then pulled off a successful double steal on the very next pitch to take its first two-run lead, 3-1.
Sallinger retired all three batters she faced in the bottom half of the inning, including two strikeouts to end the game and advance Tech in the winner’s bracket at the NCAA Athens Regional. Tech will face the winner of No. 1 seed Georgia and No. 4 seed Tennessee Tech on Saturday at Noon.