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Rachel Burkhardt walks off for SU in her final home regular season game

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ After being held to three hits by North Carolina pitcher Brittany Pickett in Friday’s 5-1 loss, Syracuse’s first inning at the plate on Saturday showed it would be a different game. Sammy Fernandez, the Orange’s lead-off batter, lined out to right. After an Alicia Hansen pop-out, Bryce Holmgren drilled the ball the third, where it was snagged by Megan Dray. Although SU didn’t record a hit, it knew Pickett wasn’t going to recreate her performance from the day before, Fernandez said.“A bunch of us went back and looked at our previous at-bats (from yesterday),” Fernandez said. “The coaches gave us good feedback. We kind of changed our pregame approaches during batting practice, learning from our at-bats yesterday, what the patterns were. We tried to jump out on top of them quick.”Throughout the game, Syracuse hit the ball hard, recording six hits and several line-drive outs. But it didn’t lead to runs.At last, the Orange had its moment. Rachel Burkhardt, the first batter in the bottom of the seventh, launched the ball to deep center and out of the ballpark. The senior broke a scoreless tie to give Syracuse (28-19, 9-12 Atlantic Coast) a walk-off win over North Carolina (28-25, 15-8 Atlantic Coast), 1-0, on Senior Day at Skytop Softball Stadium. As Burkhardt rounded the bases, she covered her mouth in shock, before being mobbed by her teammates at home plate.“I was replaying everything in my head,” Burkhardt said about her thoughts when rounding the bases. “It’s really awkward and embarrassing, but I went to round first and I kind of fell over because I was in such shock. I was like, ‘What just happened?’”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBurkhardt’s walk-off topped off an all-around strong day for the Orange, including a complete game, three-hit performance by AnnaMarie Gatti in the circle. The senior tallied five strikeouts and one walk in her second consecutive shutout. Stellar fielding by SU helped Gatti preserve her shutout, as infielders Fernandez, Hannah Dossett and Gabby Teran constantly turned hard-hit, challenging ground balls into outs.After a hitless first inning by both teams, Burkhardt was the first to reach base for the Orange in the second with a bloop single into left field. A batter later, Jessica Heese punched another single to left. Although SU left both runners on base, there was a newfound hope among the SU players against Pickett that wasn’t there Friday.“(Yesterday) we just didn’t capitalize on balls that were over the plate,” Bosch said. “We came out and hit some line-drives. Even some of our outs were productive, and better outs versus having weak ground balls or pop-ups.”Soon, SU’s productive outs turned into hits. In the third, Hansen ripped a line-drive double over UNC’s Kiani Ramsey’s head in center, where it crashed into the wall on the fly. Two innings later, Holmgren belted a near-identical shot to center. In both instances, the runner was left stranded on second to end the inning.In the top of the sixth, Gatti found herself at risk of allowing her first run. After hitting Berlynne Delamora with a pitch to start the inning, Gatti was set to face the top of UNC’s lineup. Destiny DeBerry pinch-ran for Delamora and started for second on the first opportunity she got, when Tarheel leadoff batter Leah Murray stepped to the plate.As soon Syracuse catcher Michala Maciolek caught the pitch, she bounced up and threw a dart to Fernandez, who didn’t need to move her glove to tag DeBerry. With the danger of the following hitters, Maciolek’s throw and Fernandez’s tag was crucial in retaining the shutout.“That was, in my eyes, the best play of the game,” Fernandez said.Despite SU’s inability to score in six innings, it was determined to end the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the seventh, Burkhardt said. The senior led off the inning and worked a 2-2 count before sending the ball soaring over the center field fence for the game’s only run. Both the Orange players and fans erupted at the sight of the ball clearing the fence. Despite the gloomy weather, it was the perfect way to end a perfect Senior Day, Burkhardt said.“I was emotional,” Burkhardt said. “My family’s here, all my closest friends are here. Everyone is happy. It was great.” Comments Published on April 28, 2018 at 5:10 pm Contact David: [email protected]last_img read more