NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Junior first basemen Kristen Turner took it upon herself to make sure that Iona split their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference doubleheader against Rider. The Broncs came from behind in final at-bat of game one to earn an opening 5 to 2 win, but the Maroon & Gold bats woke up for game two in route to an 8 to 5 victory.
GAME 1: Rider 5, Iona 2
Iona scored their lone two runs of the opening game in the bottom of the first inning; Junior Ashlynn Morris walked to begin the inning, and following singles by senior Christine Costello and junior Kristen Turner, senior Carly Argyle took to the plate.
Rider slinger junior Megan Ailand had an outside pitch bounce off the mitt of freshman catcher Alexa Feliciano that saw the carousal begin with Morris crossing the plate. Ailand bounced back by getting Argyle to ground out to second, and allowing just two runs to score after the imposing Gaels threat.
The game remained scoreless for both squads until the seventh inning. Argyle began the game on the rubber for Iona, and she went into the seventh inning riding a strong shutout performance. After inducing a groundout to begin the frame, the Broncs got a runner on first via a walk by senior third basemen Emily Cottrell. Freshman Kiera Swank came in to pinch hit, and the freshman delivered with a double to left center.
With the tying run on second base, head coach Melissa Inouye made a pitching change, bringing in Costello with the game in the balance. Junior shortstop Amanda Crimarco grounded into a timely fielder’s choice following the change, but sophomore second basemen Monica Clark reloaded the bases with a single to left.
Junior Toni Nino singled to bring in the Broncs first run of the game, making the score 2-1 as the Rider three-hitter, junior Josette Spencer came to the plate. Costello worked the count to one ball an two strikes, at which time Spencer popped a ball up midway up the first baseline. Costello went running to catch it, but it fell off her glove, allowing the Rider tying run to cross the plate.
The final act of the comeback for Rider came on a loud crack of the bat by senior first basemen Dana Sensi; a rocketed two-bagger down the left field line cleared the loaded bases, bringing the scoreboard to its eventual final freeze frame of 5-2.
Costello had two hits to lead the Maroon & Gold offense. Junior Katie Newton, senior Sarah Schutz, and sophomore Tori Danner each had one hit along with the aforementioned Turner. The Gaels left seven runners on base.
GAME 2: Iona 8, Rider 5
Attempting to dispel the bad taste that game one left in their mouths, Iona found themselves in an early hole at the start of the day’s backend. Rider scored three runs in the top of the first, all driven in by senior right fielder Montana Berg’s bases loaded clearing triple.
All-MAAC Preseason Team selection Kristen Turner stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the third with the Gaels trailing 3-1, and runners standing on second and third. She took the first pitch she saw and bashed a line drive off the top, and eventually over the left field fence, giving the Maroon & Gold a 4-3 lead.
Iona expanded its lead in the bottom of the fourth via a single by freshman right fielder Marisa Gergel; freshman second basemen Hailey Thompson and junior centerfielder Kelsey Long crossed the plate to bring the home tally to six.
After five innings of three-run ball from the starting pitcher Costello, sophomore Jessica Harkness entered the game to face Rider in the top of the sixth inning. Berged reach base on an error, and Cottrell followed with a free pass to set things up for Swank. Once again flourishing in the pinch hit role, the rookie drove home one with a base knock to left fielder.
After an eight pitch battle, Crimarco grounded to second base for a productive RBI out, and with just one out, Swank was on third as the tying run. Harkness and Danner would step-up to the bell, striking out the top two in the Rider to preserve the Iona advantage.
The heart of the Gaels order would once again prove fruitful came the home-frame of the sixth. Gergel singled with one out, and that was followed by Turner’s second first-pitch homerun blast of the contest. Taking the momentum of the blast, Harkness shut the door in the seventh, securing Iona’s first MAAC win of the 2016 season.
Gergel finished game two with four hits and three RBI, and battery mate Turner had three hits and five runs batted in of her own.
Iona will take a turn back to non-conference play this Wednesday, April 13 when Hofstra comes to Donald E. Walsh field for a 3:00 pm first pitch.