STATESBORO, Ga. - Sophomore first baseman Kelley Dillon (Hanahan, S.C.) ripped a pair of homeruns in Game 1 as the College of Charleston (21-21, 8-8) split the first two games of a Southern Conference series at Georgia Southern (23-23, 8-8) on Saturday, April 24. CofC won the first game by a 7-4 score in eight innings before dropping the nightcap 3-1.
The Cougars wasted no time as they took advantage of a two-out double by senior designated hitter Kristie Shifflett (Virginia Beach, Va.) in the top of the first inning of Game 1. Sophomore outfielder Amanda Lonergan (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) then followed that with a triple to left field, her third of the season, to give CofC a 1-0 lead and run her team-leading RBI total to 26.
Senior pitcher Terri Mesko (McDonough, Ga.) continued to keep the Eagles off the scoreboard, working out of a two-out, two on jam in the second inning and first and second with no outs in the fourth inning. In that frame, she benefitted from a fly out to center, notched a strikeout and got a pop-up on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.
Georgia Southern would finally break through in the bottom of the fifth as senior shortstop Nina Iduate led off with a single and eventually scored on a single by junior first baseman Megen Smith to tie the game at 1-1. It would not stay tied long, however, as Kristie Shifflett led off the sixth with a single and Lonergan reached on a fielder's choice when GSU attempted to get the out at third base. A throwing error on the play then allowed Lonergan to advance to second and put a pair of runners in scoring position.
Sophomore outfielder Katie Forbes (Odessa, Fla.) then lofted a ball to centerfield that allowed Shifflett to score from third and give the College of Charleston back the lead at 2-1. Following a second fly out, Kelley Dillon then blasted a two-run homerun out to left center to push the lead to 4-1.
Georgia Southern would respond with three runs of their own in the home half of the sixth inning as sophomore second baseman Hanna Ennis drilled a two-run homerun over the left field fence to close the gap to 4-3. The Eagles would then tie the game later in the inning as sophomore catcher Mackenzie Williams scored from third on an error.
CofC would mount a rally of their own in the top of the seventh as they loaded the bases with a walk and a pair of singles before Georgia Southern got out of the inning with a foul pop to first base. The Eagles then stranded a runner at second base in the bottom of the seventh inning. That would be a costly error as the Cougars exploded for three runs on four hits in the top of the eighth inning.
Dillon led off the frame with her second homerun of the game, a career-best, and Kristie Shifflett followed with a two-run single up the middle that gave the College of Charleston 7-4 lead. GSU would not go quietly in their half of the eighth, however, as they loaded the bases with two outs before Lonergan tracked down a long fly ball on the warning track in left center to secure the three-run victory.
Iduate led Georgia Southern with a 3-for-5 day that included a run and an RBI while Megen Smith finished 2-for-4 with an RBI. Hanna Ennis notched a pair of RBIs on a homerun and senior outfielder Kelly Burnett went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Megen Smith threw 1.1 innings of relief and allowed three runs on five hits to take the loss and drop to 5-13 on the season.
Kristie Shifflett went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs and a pair of RBIs for the College of Charleston while Kelley Dillon finished 2-for-3 with two runs, three RBIs and a career-high two homeruns. Katie Forbes notched a 3-for-4 performance with an RBI and Lonergan went 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Saylors pitched three scoreless innings of relief to pick up the win and improve to 5-2 on the season.
In the nightcap, Georgia Southern got on the board first, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning as sophomore infielder Marie Fogle reached on a fielder's choice and eventually came around to score on a fielding error later in the inning. The score would stay that way until the fifth inning when the Eagles' notched a pair of runs on an RBI double by Fogle and a single to right by Megen Smith to stretch the lead to 3-0.
CofC would narrow the gap to 3-1 in the top of the sixth as junior shortstop Hillary Stringer (Summerville, S.C.) led off with a single and came around to score on an RBI single by Kristie Shifflett. That would be as close as they would get as the Eagles closed out the inning and set down the Cougars in the seventh for the two-run victory to knot the series.
Megen Smith had the clutch two-RBI single to led the Eagles while Marie Fogle notched a pair of runs scored. Nina Iduate finished the game 2-for-4. Smith pitched 5.2 innings and earned the victory, allowing only four hits, while Brianna Streetmon threw 1.1 innings of relief to collect her third save of the season.
Kristie Shifflett had the Cougars lone RBI of the day, finishing 1-for-3 while Stringer was 1-for-2 with the run scored. Junior pitcher Alexa Datko (San Diego, Calif.) started and went 5.2 innings, surrendering all three runs, to drop to 5-10 on the season.
The College of Charleston wraps up the series tomorrow afternoon with a 1 p.m. game against Georgia Southern.
Kelley Dillon's two-homerun performance in Game 1 marks the first by a College of Charleston player since Kristie Shifflett belted two at Charlotte on March 10, 2009 ... Kristie Shifflett's first inning double moved her into a tie with Georgia Southern's Jenny Side and UNC Greensboro's Brittany Ausley for the league lead with 11.