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Eastern Florida Splits Doubleheader With Nationally No. 2-Ranked Indian River

April 7, 2014 -  It was the worst and best of times for Eastern Florida's softball team on Monday.

The Titans dropped a 10-0 five-inning mercy rule game at Indian River State College in Fort Pierce and then turned around and eked out an excruciating 7-5, 8-inning victory over the Pioneers, the No. 1 team in Florida and the No. 2 team in the nation.

The Florida College System Activities Association Southern Conference split left Eastern Florida with a 6-4 record in the conference and 20-21 overall. First-place Indian River is 7-3 and 33-7 overall, remaining one game ahead of Eastern Florida.

Miami Dade College also is 6-4 in the conference. Palm Beach State College is 5-5 and Broward College 0-8.

The top three teams in conference advance to the state tournament in Pensacola in May. Eastern Florida has qualified for the tournament in nine of the last 10 seasons.

Starting Monday's first game without co-captains, first and second batters and leading hitters Devin Williams and Brooke Formby – who were attending class – Eastern Florida managed just three hits off Indian River right-hander Lisette Garay who did not allow a runner past second base and did not walk a batter.

Meanwhile Indian River collected 16 hits off Eastern Florida right-hander Dajia Jones. The Pioneers put the game away with six runs in the bottom of the fifth, five with two outs. The outburst was capped by a three-run home run over the wall in dead centerfield by Alexandra Ortiz that invoked the mercy rule.

Kaitlyn Ortagus had two hits for the Titans in the first game.

In the second game Eastern Florida sent nine batters to the plate in the top of the first inning to score three runs, the big blow being Jones' two-run single that scored Williams and Formby who opened the game with a double and single respectively.

Hannah Denny rove in the third run with a single.

The Titans stretched their lead to 4-0 in the third when Ortagus' ground out scored Jones who opened the inning with a walk and advanced on Shelby Nazworth's single and a ground out.

The Pioneers scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth without the ball leaving the infield thanks to a walk, a hit batter, an error and an infield single.

Eastern Florida loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the fifth but came away empty.

Indian River tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with a single, walk, fielder's choice and an error but left runners on second and third.

That was the opening Eastern Florida needed and wanted and pounced upon.

Ortagus singled to open the top of the eighth and was followed by Harlee Gadley who also singled. Williams bunted for a base hit and Formby hit into a fielder's choice with MacKenzie Post, who ran for Ortagus, being forced at the plate.

Sophomore Manya Lopez then stepped up to bat.

"After I got one strike on me I knew she was coming away so I just stepped close to home plate and just took that ball into right center," Lopez said of what proved to be the winning hit.

"It felt good because I made that error at short(stop) so I wanted to get that hit for (pitcher) Formby especially because she worked so hard."

Bri Seaman plated the final run on a ground out for a 7-4 lead.

Formby got the win allowing six hits – just three through the first six innings - and escaping a bottom of the eighth jam. The Pioneers scored one run on three hits and a sacrifice fly but stranded two runners. Gadley snared consecutive fly balls to left field for the final outs.

Eastern Florida tattooed two Indian River pitchers for 12 hits with Williams, Lopez and Seaman each collecting two apiece.

"They matured in front of us today," Eastern Florida assistant coach Bob Yanczewski said of the Titans. "They knew they got spanked in the first game. They came out and score three in the first inning (in the second game) and played good defense . . . we got a little shaky in the middle.

"We let them back in in the seventh but to come back in the eighth and really put it to them was fantastic. The ending wasn't easy. It didn't come easy for us. But again that's a big win. Fantastic."

Next up for Eastern Florida is its final road doubleheader of the season, Thursday at Broward College. The Titans then close the regular season by hosting Indian River at 4 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 16 and Miami Dade at 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday April 19.