IRVINE, Calif. – Concordia University Irvine and Cal State Dominguez Hills needed two games on Saturday to decide who would advance to the Super Regional.
Concordia forced the extra game by pulling off an epic victory in extra innings on its home field.
This was the fourth time in five years that Concordia has hosted the NCAA DII West Regional – with the only exception coming in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic paused all college and pro sports across the country.
Concordia entered the day 35-0 when leading after four innings this season. That trend continued before a completely different type of game unfolded later that afternoon.
Game 1: CUI 8, CSUDH 6 (9 innings)
Playing as the designated visiting team, the Eagles got going right away. Sydney Sprinkle opened the scoring by cranking a solo home run over the fence in the top of the first.
Senior Lauren Fairchild later smacked a two-run single to stretch that lead to 3-0 for CUI in the top of the second.
The Eagles stacked on two more runs in the fifth. Sprinkle caught the Toros off guard by laying down a bunt with two runners in scoring position and her sacrifice plated another run for the Green and Gold.
CUI led 5-1 and the game appeared to be in control. However, the Toros rallied by putting up a three spot at the bottom of the fifth inning. Erika Morris relieved starting pitcher Katlin Entrup and was able to coerce the third out to keep CUI in front, 5-4.
The Toros were able to get the tying run on base with one out at the bottom of the seventh. Morris struck out a batter for the second out before Maiya Lopez hit the game-tying two-run single to extend the game to extra innings.
The teams were knotted at 6-6 through eight frames as well.
In the top of the ninth, CUI freshman catcher Kendall Flatt came up huge with a RBI single with the bases loaded. Flatt hit a chopper up the middle just over the pitcher which granted everyone enough time to reach safely and Shelli Faulk came home to make it 7-6 CUI. Pinch-hitter Shelby Pfeiler then worked a walk which forced home an insurance run to make it 8-6.
Cortney Koelmans (9-0) entered the circle for the final two frames and allowed only two hits. She struck out two and did not allow CSUDH to score. The Eagles survived and forced an extra game for all the marbles.
Game 2: CSUDH 8, CUI 0 (5 innings)
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Toros came out sizzling at the plate in the second game of the day.
CSUDH plated four runs in the first inning and built a 6-0 lead by the time the second inning.
Alyssa Olague again dazzled in the circle for the Toros and Concordia tried to get back into the game but the deficit was too much to overcome.
PacWest Player of the Year Megan Massa had a single but Olague limited the rest of the CUI offense and only faced 16 batters in five shutout innings of work.
CUI concludes the season 46-10 overall after going an impressive 29-3 in conference play and winning the PacWest Conference title for the third straight full season. (Note: In 2021, CUI also won the SoCal Pod when the PacWest split into three sections while schools navigated the pandemic)
This spring, CUI rattled off the best start in program history with a 36-game winning streak to open the season. That is tied for the sixth-longest undefeated start to a season in NCAA DII history. Along the way, the Eagles also helped head coach Crystal Rosenthal and associate coach Rose Imbriano earn career win No. 600.
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