Bengals’ big seventh inning brings sweep in SUNYAC opener


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Buffalo State’s Kate Brownell scores the game-winning run to propel the Bengals to a 5-4 victory over Fredonia.

Entering the seventh inning in the nightcap of Tuesday’s doubleheader against Fredonia, Jenna Clark was a combined 0 for 6 at the plate with two strikeouts, and had made four errors in the field.

But with one swing of the bat, she became the hero.

The Buffalo State softball team trailed Fredonia, 5-4, in game two. With two outs in bottom of the seventh inning and runners on first and third, Clarke delivered a walk-off, two-run double to right field to complete a doubleheader sweep of Fredonia.

“It feels great to be there for my team because I definitely struggled today,” Clarke said. “I’m really happy that we could win it.  It was definitely a team effort though.”

Clarke drove in Sarah Gorski from second base and Kate Brownell from third base to improve the Bengals’ record to 7-5 overall and 2-0 in SUNYAC play. However, it didn’t come easy.

Buffalo State fell behind, 5-1, after Fredonia used a four-run third inning to break a 1-1 tie. The Bengals still trailed Fredonia, 5-1, heading into the fifth inning and had just two hits up to that point.

“We just had to pick each other up,” Gorski said. “I think we got a little bit frazzled, but once we all came together we were fine.

Buffalo State came to life in the fifth inning when Shelly Maggard and Carly Knight hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Joanna Bardak hit a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Maggard. Kara Stein followed that up with a single to left field that scored Stephanie Novo to cut Fredonia’s lead to 5-3.

Clarke struck out looking to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded. After going down one-two-three in the bottom of the sixth, Buffalo State scored three runs in the seventh inning for the win.

“It’s huge to start SUNYAC [play] 2-0,” Buffalo State coach Marie Curran said. “Fredonia is [a] really good team this year and they have a great coach that I respect a lot. For a team to comeback, was even more important, no matter who our opponent was because in previous history we haven’t done those things. This year’s team is different than others. It’s nice to see.”

Gorski led Buffalo State at the plate going 3 for 4, while pitcher Sam Tilkins earned the win, throwing four and two-thirds innings and allowing just one run on four hits.

Buffalo State won game one of the doubleheader, 4-0. Maddie Coneys threw a two-hit shutout for her fourth win of the season. Novo went 2-2 and drew two walks to lead the Bengals’ offense. Novo is hitting .535 this season and leads the SUNYAC in nearly every offensive category.

The Bengals traveled to Clement, Florida over spring break and went 5-5 in the sunshine state. Buffalo State dropped its first three games, but finished its trip by winning five of its last seven games.

Buffalo State is tied with Cortland for first place in the SUNYAC and travels to Allegheny for a non-league doubleheader before playing doubleheaders against SUNYAC foes Geneseo and Brockport on Friday and Saturday respectively.

“I think we’re okay,” Curran said. “We have to keep improving on defense and our pitching. Obviously we can hit and I’m really excited about that. The kids have done a great job working at that part. Now it’s just cleaning up some defense…”