The day was filled with errors, a home run and a single stoppage at bat. What a way to start the last home series of the season.
UNC (21-28, 9-8 Big Sky) split Thursday afternoon against Idaho State (24-24, 8-9 Big Sky) at home.
Defensive issues were again a problem for the Bears, who lost their series opener, 8-3, on Thursday after five errors.
Idaho State swung on the first pitch and reached base on an error by second baseman Alexsi Barashkoff to start the game. Although the Bengals were prevented from scoring in the lead in the first, it was a preview of what was to come.
UNC scored first in the bottom half of the first frame with runs from graduate center fielder Riley Plogger and senior second baseman Paola Villegas.
The inning ended early when freshman third baseman Peyton Gale thought she had walked, but was called for a strike. This led to second-year designated player Hannah Knox rocketing to second place before eventually being caught on the way to base for an out. Gale struck when she returned to home plate.
Idaho State took the lead in the third after scoring on two RBIs and a pitching error. He then added two more runs in the fourth, both of which were unearned and came after errors in the field. ISU took a 5-2 lead.
UNC looked like they could recover in the bottom of the fourth when junior right fielder Alyssa Wenzel scored on an RBI pitch from junior left fielder Lauren Strathearn.
Unfortunately, the Bears fell down the order in fifth and sixth, while allowing a single home run and two RBI runs that gave ISU an 8-3 lead.
Neither team scored in the final frames, giving the Bengals the first win of the series.
UNC’s pitching staff recorded six strikeouts, three walks and one hit per pitch in the loss. Of the eight points scored, five were earned. Additionally, the defense recorded five errors.
ISU staff recorded seven Ks, two walks and one wild throw. There was also only one mistake.
Plogger led the team in the first contest, going 3 for 3 from the plate and scoring once. The Bears had eight hits to ISU’s 11.
Give it up for freshman pitcher Isabelle DiNapoli. She faced just one batter, recorded a strikeout and earned the stoppage to split the day.
UNC beat Idaho State, 3-2, thanks to DiNapoli’s huge takedown.
Freshman pitcher Meghan Golden pitched for half of the first game and 6 2/3 innings of the second. Before being taken out, Golden allowed a two-out triple that could have tied the game, but DiNapoli’s stoppage ended the game in regulation time.
The UNC coaching staff made some changes to the roster, including starting senior second baseman Carson Fischer and senior designated Katie Simonsgaard. It also moved Villegas to shortstop, in place of rookie Jaycie Gandert. Gandert was moved to third.
The ISU is mounted on the board with a bag fly at the top of the first. In the second half of the inning, Gandert was hit by a pitch for a pass and Villegas capitalized with a two-run explosion over the fence.
Villegas picked up a minor injury mid-game. Gandert returned to shortstop, while rookie Peyton Gale came third, his usual spot.
Gale scored late in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead when Wenzel doubled to left center.
The Bears could have extended the lead one more point – in fact, it looked like they did. Graduate catcher Kaileigh Holland chose a single to score Wenzel, but officials ruled Wenzel left base early. This meant she was called for a second out and Holland had to bat her back, during which she ended up with a flyout.
Golden recorded just two strikeouts in the game, but she didn’t give up any walks. Idaho State struck out four, allowed three walks and one hit.
UNC finished with four hits and no errors, and ISU had six hits and played a clear game.
Wenzel went 2 for 3 and Villegas went 1 for 1 in his only at bat.
The Bears will face the Bengals in the rubber game at noon on Friday. It’s the last regular season game of the year.