Falcon softball splits another weekend set

A weekend that started out with hope before fading into heartbreak ended with elation for the BG softball team. The Falcons emerged from an exhausting, and oftentimes exasperating, four game stretch as owners of the eighth and final spot in the Mid-American Conference Tournament. In a manner befitting their entire regular season, the Falcons did not make things easy on themselves. After opening the weekend with a crisp, clean victory over Central Michigan, BG suffered through two agonizing defeats before rallying to vanquish Eastern Michigan in a winner-take-all duel Sunday afternoon, earning the right to face top-seeded Ball State in this week’s tournament. Friday, Game 1: BG 3, CMU 0 Pitching on five days rest, senior Hayley Wiemer took to the circle in game one and delivered a five-hit shutout in BG’s 3-0 win over Central Michigan. After a scoreless first four innings, the Falcon offense finally got to CMU starter Ali Pettit in the fifth. After Missy Bowman led off with a double,Haleigh Bielstein connected on a two-run homer, giving BG a 2-0 lead. With Wiemer in control, the score remained 2-0 in the seventh, where Bowman was at it again. This time the sophomore gave BG a huge insurance run, delivering a solo home run to right center field to increase the lead to 3-0. Wiemer closed the door in the bottom of the inning, sealing the 3-0 win for the Falcons. She went the distance, dealing seven strikeouts while allowing no runs on five hits. Leading the offense for BG was Bowman, who went 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Friday, Game 2: CMU 4, BG 3 Wiemer enjoyed a great outing in the circle the first game, but CMU was able to figure her out in the second, coming from behind to beat the Falcons 4-3. Once again the Falcon offense struck first with Susan Sontag delivering a solo home run in the second and a two-run single in the third to give BG a 3-0 lead. The Falcons took a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but a lead-off single followed by back-to-back singles with one out scored a CMU run to make it a one-run ball game. The Falcons were able to get the second out of the inning, but a single to right center with two on gave the Chippewas the 4-3 win. Wiemer got the loss, pitching 6.2 innings while allowing four runs on 11 hits. Leading the Falcon offense was Sontag going 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBIs and a run scored. Also recording multiple hits were Bowman, who went 2-for-3, and Melissa West, who went 2-for-4. Despite the harrowing setback in game 2, the Falcons still found themselves in control of their own fate. All they needed was a win Saturday against Eastern Michigan and a tournament berth would be theirs. Saturday: EMU 8, BG 7 Needing a victory against the Eagles to wrap up a spot in the MAC Tournament, the Falcons came tantalizingly close before surrendering five runs in the bottom of the seventh, turning a 7-3 lead into a stunning 8-7 loss. Things started well for the Falcons, who bolted out to a seemingly insurmountable 7-1 lead on the strength of home runs from Wiemer and Zada Lines. Although Wiemer, who was throwing her third consecutive game, gave up a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, the Falcons lead of 7-3 appeared to be safe as she strode back out for the seventh inning with a postseason berth in sight. However Wiemer, for the second straight day, lost her command late as the Eagles erupted for five runs to steal away the game and keep their own tournament aspirations alive. The winning runs were supplied via a two-run single by Kaylee Tolliver. ‘ The dramatic victory propelled the Eagles ahead of the Falcons in the standings, and set up a do-or-die showdown yesterday, with the winner advancing to the post-season and the loser going home. Despite suffering a second straight heart-wrenching defeat, coach Shannon Salsburg said’ her team’s mood did not remain sour for long. ‘After the game, we were down for about 10 minutes before the attitude shifted to picking ourselves up and getting the job done on Sunday.’ Sunday: BG 6, EMU 3 Heading into yesterday’s series finale with the Eagles, BG knew there would be no tomorrow without a victory. In a gutty display of both mental and physical fortitude, Wiemer headed back out to the circle for the fourth consecutive game seeking for the second straight day to pitch her team into the tournament. Once again, the senior from Sylvania was sharp early on, holding the Eagles scoreless through the first four innings. Meanwhile, Bielstein ensured that Wiemer had the necessary run support, hitting a two-run single in the third and a three-run homer in the fifth, to give the Falcons a 5-0 cushion. This time there would be no late-inning heroics for the Eagles, whose single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh were not enough to overtake a Falcon team that was, at long last, able to relax and celebrate a postseason trip with a 6-3 victory. Following the game, Salsburg could not say enough about the performance of her trusted senior. ‘She was just terrific for us the entire weekend,’ Salsburg said. ‘She really only had two bad innings the whole time, and to come out and throw the way she did today was just phenomenal.’ The Falcons will now take on Ball State in the first round of the MAC Tournament at a time to be determined. ‘