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Titans Move Into Second Place In WIAC Race

Acacia Tupa homered and doubled among her five hits against the Blue Devils.
Acacia Tupa homered and doubled among her five hits against the Blue Devils.

Kailee Garstecki hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run in the opener as the UW-Oshkosh softball team ascended to second in the WIAC standings with a pair of victories over UW-Stout on Monday (April 30) at the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park.

UW-Oshkosh (21-10, 8-4 WIAC) won a thrilling 3-1 decision in the first game before cruising to an 11-4 win during the nightcap.

The Titans, who have won eight of their last nine meetings with UW-Stout, can clinch the second seed at the five-team WIAC Championship with at least a doubleheader split against UW-La Crosse in the regular season finale Tuesday (May 1) at the UW-Oshkosh Softball Park.

UW-Stout (21-10, 9-5 WIAC), which concluded its regular season schedule, fell one place to third in the league standings.

In Monday's first game, Titans starting pitcher Bailey Smaney outdueled UW-Stout's Beth Wood as the teams combined for just eight hits, including eight by UW-Oshkosh.

Each of the three runs in the game were a result of home runs. UW-Oshkosh took a 1-0 edge in the bottom of the first inning on a leadoff homer from Acacia Tupa. The Blue Devils knotted the score at 1 in the fourth frame on a one-out homer by Alicia Meyer. Tupa, who homered for the second straight game, is tied for the team lead with three home runs on the season.

The Titans' fateful seventh inning was sparked by a one-out double from Claire Petrus. Entering as a pinch-hitter, Garstecki followed Petrus' hit with her first collegiate home run down the left field line, giving the Titans their fifth walk-off win of the season.

Smaney (8-2), who has won each of her last six decisions and all of her four most recent starts, earned her fifth complete-game victory of the year. Meyer's home run broke up Smaney's no-hit bid, but she went on to limit the Blue Devils to a two-out single in the sixth and a one-out single in the seventh the rest of the way.

In the nightcap, UW-Oshkosh jumped out to a 7-0 advantage after three innings and put the game away with a four-run fifth frame.

Tupa, who has recorded an extra-base hit in each of the past five games, went 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.

Erika Berry, Natalie Dillon and Garstecki each added two of the Titans' 14 hits while Abby Menting drove in a team-leading three runs.

UW-Oshkosh struck for the runs in the home half of the first inning as Dillon laced an RBI single and Natalie Dudek hit a two-out, two-run single.

The Titans tacked on four runs – all with two outs – in the third inning behind a pair of hits, one walk and three Blue Devils errors. UW-Oshkosh loaded the bases with one out before eventually plating two-out runs on a wild pitch, singles from Berry and Kaitlyn Krol, and on UW-Stout's third infield fielding error of the inning.

The Blue Devils cut their deficit to 7-4 with four unearned runs in top of the fifth inning, but UW-Oshkosh answered with four runs of their own during the home half of the frame.

UW-Stout's fifth-inning outburst featured a two-run single from AJ Klostermann and RBI singles by both Meyer and Jessica Daley. Menting gave UW-Oshkosh a 10-4 lead with a three-run triple and Dillon followed with a single to score Menting with the game-final run.

Petrus (11-7) pitched a complete game for the Titans, allowing four runs (zero earned) on 10 hits. She walked two and struck out one.

Meyer and Meghan Kelly led the Blue Devils with two hits apiece.

UW-Stout starting pitcher Sommer Kunstmann (4-3) was charged with the loss after yielding three runs on eight hits in three innings.

The team combined to strand 19 baserunners, including 10 by UW-Oshkosh. The Titans left the bases loaded in the first and third innings. UW-Stout left three on base during the fifth frame.