SB: Gibson’s home run powers Lady Colonels in game one

Luke Modrovsky, Sports Editor

EDWARDSVILLE, Pa. — Sophomore Sarah Gibson came into Saturday’s matchup against “visiting” Misericordia with an impressive above-.400 batting average. But with the impressive hitting percentage, there was still something missing from her statline.

A home run.

Gibson left game one of the doubleheader with exactly one home run, but not just any home run, an extra-inning home run. It was also the team’s first of the season.

That round tripper proved to be the difference as the Lady Colonels defeated Misericordia 3-2 in game one.

“She’s been hitting the ball well,” Wilkes head coach Sarah Leavenworth (Maulorico) said. “That’s who you wanted up in that situation. She was relaxed. She was smiling. She was happy. That’s what happens when you’re relaxed like that. She’s been hitting the ball really well. And it’s just been an extension of that, but that was extra huge.”

The twin bill was originally scheduled to be played at Misericordia, but was moved to the Ralston Athletic Complex, due to poor field conditions in Dallas.

The Cougars jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead after three complete frames, posting a pair of solo home runs in the bottom of the first and third.

Wilkes would light the offensive fire in the top of the fifth when freshman Nicolette Kessler reached on an error to lead off the top half of the inning. Gibson’s single advanced Kessler to third before Celine Podlesney would bring her home on an RBI single.

The offensive action would not cease there as the Lady Colonels would tie the score in the next frame thanks to a freshman Sydney Cogswell RBI double, who brought home senior Christina Gambino. Gambino doubled to lead off the inning while senior Sarah Birchmeier moved Gambino to third on a sacrifice bunt.

The Lady Colonels have seen several come-from-behind victories on the young season.

“I prefer to stay ahead, but this team, if you look at all of our games, they have been playing from behind,” Leavenworth said. “It shows the grit that they have. It shows how hard they work, and they don’t give up.”

“But I’d like to stop that,” Leavenworth said with a laugh.

The teams would trade zeros in the seventh and eighth innings.

In the top of the ninth, Gibson would break the 2-2 tie when she connected for a solo home run over the left field wall into the City of Wilkes-Barre.

The left field wall acts as the boundary line from Edwardsville to Wilkes-Barre City.

The split series puts Wilkes at 9-5 overall on the season and 1-1 in MAC Freedom play.

“Of course you want to sweep, but this puts us in good shape,” Leavenworth said. “We’re not going to have to chase. We’re sitting comfortably, but we can’t get too comfortable.”

Gibson’s home run backed up a strong pitching performance from sophomore Gracen Staunton. Staunton went the distance in the circle, surrendering two runs on three hits. She also threw a season-high eight strikeouts.

“She lives to compete,” Leavenworth said of Staunton. “She absolutely loves it. You watch it in the way she swings, watch it in the way she pitches. She goes full bore everything. She’s strong. As pressure builds she gets better.”

Staunton, who has become known for her love for sweet tea, has taken issue in the difference of sweet teas offered between Northeast Pennsylvania and her home state, North Carolina.

“It’s not sweet enough up here,” Leavenworth said. “So we have to go down south to get the good sweet tea. Up north, it’s not just sweet enough.”

In game two, Wilkes jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning.

The second end of the doubleheader included a scoreless bottom of the fourth for the Cougars when Jumalon chased down a double at the fence in left center after Jumalon fired to Staunton, who completed a perfect relay thrown to Gibson for the final out.

Misericordia found the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single to center. The Cougars would tie the contest in the bottom of the sixth with a sacrifice fly to right field. A diving Nicolette Kessler came up with the catch, but the throw would not be in time.

Leavenworth did appeal the runner leaving early at third base, but the appeal would be denied. The plate umpire ruled that Misericordia did not leave early on the tag up.

Misericordia would walk off in the bottom of the seventh with three consecutive hits with two outs to secure the 4-3 victory in game two.

Game One: Wilkes 3, Misericordia 2

Wilkes 000 011 001 — 3 12 0

Misericordia 101 000 000 — 2 3 2

E — Marzzacco, Delong. SH — Britny Jumalon, Gracen Staunton, Sarah Birchmeier, Butera. SB — Jordyn Kondras, Alexis Kessler, Holub. 2B — Britny Jumalon, Christina Gambino (3), Sydney Cogswell HR — Sarah Gibson, Butera, DeLong.

Pitching: WIL — Grace Staunton (W 4-1), 9 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 SO. MIS — Schmidt 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 SO; Hoffman (L 1-4), 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.

Game Two: Misericordia 4, Wilkes 3

Wilkes 100 010 1 — 3 5 1

Misericordia 000 012 1 — 4 11 1

E — Jumalon, Stephani. SH — Britny Jumalon (2), Birchmeier, Stephani. SF — DeLong. CS — Butera. SB — Holub. 2B — Jumalon, Holub, Butera, Stephani.

Pitching: WIL — Celine Podlesney (L 2-4), 6.2 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 0 SO. MIS — Moyle (W 2-3), 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 SO.