|Melanie White was masterful in game one|
The defending MAAC champion Marist Red Foxes swept a crucial conference doubleheader Thursday in Loudonville, N.Y. over the Siena Saints.
Melanie White has not been in the usual Marist starting rotation for conference games this season, but was a surprise starter in game one of this doubleheader. And after giving up a run on an Alyssa Lancaster single in the bottom of the first inning, Melanie totally shut down the Siena attack, allowing just another single the rest of the way. She struck out eight Saints in the game. Her team scored three runs in the top of the third inning, with a two RBI double by Taylor Kuzma, and a theft of home by the same Taylor, who remains one of the top hitters in the MAAC with her .382 average. She hit 3 for 4 in the game. Becca Freeman drove home another Marist run in the top of the fifth inning for the 4-1 win. The win clinched a spot in the upcoming MAAC championship for the Red Foxes. Alyssa Lancaster had both Siena hits; Jessika-Jo Sandrini suffered the loss for the Saints.
Siena also needed just one win (with five games remaining on their schedule at the start of game two), and seemed determined to get it in the nightcap, which included a rain delay. The Saints jumped in front 2-0 in the bottom of the second inning, thanks to RBI singles by Stephanie Viggiano and Paige Lloyd. But that lead did not last, as the Red Foxes tied the game in the top of the next inning when Alyssa Zahka doubled home two runs, the beginning of a big game for the senior. It was in the top of the fifth inning when Alyssa blasted a homer that also scored Taylor Kuzma, who had walked, to give Marist a lead they would not relinquish. The Saints didn't give up however, closing the gap to 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Melanie Kalesse singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch. RBIs by Taylor Kuzma and Kyrsten Van Natta gave the Red Foxes a three run lead in the top of the sixth inning. A two run home run off the bat of Chelsey Drew pulled to Siena to within 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, but that remained the final score as the rally failed. Paige Lewis earned the win for Marist; Toni Edwards took the loss for the Saints. Alyssa Zahka was 2 for 3 with that home run to go with four RBIs for Marist.
Marist is now 12-4, with a shot at finishing first overall. Siena fell to 10-6, and still seek that clinching win in their final four games, all to be played on their home field.