NORTH ADAMS -- MCLA starting pitcher Rachel Quackenbush pitched seven strong innings on Friday, but it wasn't enough, as the Trailblazers lost 3-1 to Worcester State in extra innings the MASCAC conference tournament.
As a result of the quarterfinal defeat, the Trailblazers will play Framingham State, which lost 6-0 Friday to top-seeded Bridgewater State, in a winner-go-home game in the double-elimination tourney. The game is at Bridgewater State at 11 a.m.
Quackenbush's performance came after a difficult night that put her appearance on the mound Friday in doubt.
"I was up all last night, throwing up with a stomach bug, so those extra innings were interesting," she said. "I had to work through them, do what I had to do and bear down."
Quackenbush's effort was gutsy, but the extra two innings took a toll on her. With runners on second and third with two outs in the ninth, Worcester State's Haley Terry plated the winning runs with a shot off the center-field wall.
The Lancers left 10 runners on base, but came up with the biggest hit when they needed it most.
"We had a lot of opportunities throughout the game, but we couldn't get that hit when we needed it," Worcester State coach Michelle Cote said. "We've had several extra-inning games where we've been on the losing end, but we're turning things around for the playoffs."
The game's start was delayed 30 minutes because of rain and strong winds. A light rain fell as the game started and the teams had to deal with the wind early, but the conditions improved as the game progressed.
Quackenbush, a junior, and Worcester State starter Kayla Humphrey were locked in a pitchers' duel throughout regulation. Quackenbush surrendered 11 hits, but got key strikeouts (nine) to pitch out of early jams.
Humphrey did not notch as many strikeouts, but her combination of a dropball and a curve kept the Trailblazers off balance. She allowed only four hits.
"Her pitches were all working, so that's very positive," Cote said. "If [the dropball] is working, she can keep control of the game."
Taking over the game is exactly what Humphrey did. MCLA scored first, in the second inning, as Samantha Barbarotta scored from second on a single by Abigail Lucas. Barbarotta had reached base on an error.
After Lucas' single, however, Humphrey retired the next 12 batters she faced.
"The umpire was giving her the calls low and away -- it's tough to hit that pitch," MCLA coach Mike Ameen said. "She did a good job. She hit her spots, pitched to the catcher and beat us."
Humphrey stymied the Trailblazers' offense after the quick start, and the Lancers' offense came around late.
Heading into the sixth inning, Worcester State had stranded five runners including four who reached scoring position. But a lead-off single and a stolen base by Hayley Terry put her in position to score when Mackenzie Crumley hit a single.
The Lancers stranded a runner in scoring position again in the eighth, before Terry's shot produced the winning runs in the ninth.
In this morning's win-or-go-home situation, Ameen has a difficult decision to make. With Quackenbush's illness and the fact that she threw nine innings Friday, Amanda Meczywor could get the call.
Regardless of who starts the do-or-die first game, the Trailblazers will need to win twice to advance to the next round of the playoffs, so both pitchers should see action.
"I have no qualms about throwing Amanda tomorrow," Ameen said. "She's a talented No. 2, but if Rachel's ready to go I might save [Amanda] for the next game. I'll have to see how Rachel is feeling in the morning."
Worcester St. 000 001 002 -- 3 11 3
MCLA 010 000 000 -- 1 4 1
Humphrey and Salisbury. Quackenbush and Sicinski. W -- Humphrey. L -- Quackenbush. 2B -- Worcester St. (Terry)
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