May 8, 2010
Contact: Brian McCann
CLEVELAND, Ohio - Cleveland State hit four home runs and senior Amanda Macenko threw a pair of complete game victories as the Vikings swept Valparaiso, 3-2 and 7-0, on Saturday at Viking Field.
The wins allowed CSU (41-13, 21-2) to become just the third program in Horizon League history, and first since 2005, to win 40 games in a season and extended the Vikings league-record for conference wins in a season to 21.
Valparaiso, which entered the game in a second place tie with UIC and Wright State, slipped to 32-18 overall and 12-8 in league play and dropped them into fourth place.
"The first game was a little sloppy, but I expected that since we didn't play any game mid-week, but we put it together late in the game and really played well in the second game," CSU head coach Angie Nicholson said. "We had to battle the weather all day long and even though it created some problems, we were able to endure and overcome things.
"Amanda (Macenko) was outstanding again. She is that rare pitcher who gets stronger and stronger the more she throws so that she is better in the second game of a doubleheader than the first. That was the case today.
"This is the last weekend in the regular season and with the league tournament being played in Cleveland next week, we are playing at the level that we will need to win the title next week. With the regular season title already wrapped up, we could have come in flat today, but that wasn't the case. The kids love to play."
The Vikings took a 1-0 lead in the first inning of the opener when Katelyn Ciminelli, who was three-for-three in the first game, singled up the middle to score Jessica Burt, who had led off with a double
CSU pushed the lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Amy Powell hit a two-run home run to left-centerfield, her seventh long ball of the season.
Valpo loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth, but could not score as Macenko enticed Jennifer Hermanson to hit into a fielder's choice with the runner being thrown out at the plate and both Kelsey Phalen and Lisa DeBruzzi struck out to end the inning.
The Crusaders got on the scoreboard in the fifth when Joylyn Ichiyama hit a solo homerun to right to make it 3-1.
Valparaiso closed to within 3-2 on an unearned run in the sixth, but Macenko closed the door, striking out the final two batters of the game.
Macenko was the winner, scattering seven hits and allowing two runs (one earned), striking out 12 and walking just one. Valpo's Alex Lagesse was the loser, giving up three runs on seven hits in six innings. She struck out six and walked two.
Cleveland State jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the nightcap when Tess Sito crushed her 17th homerun of the season in the first inning.
A two-out rally in the third led to three more runs for the Vikings. Sito doubled with two outs, stole third and came into score on a Ciminelli single. Ciminelli then came around to score on a two-run HR by Lia Gordon. It was Gordon's ninth of the year and extended her school record career total to 26.
CSU put the game out of reach in the fourth with three more runs to lead, 7-0. Dara Toman started the rally by lining a single off relief pitcher Shaleigh Jansen and then stealing second and coming in to score on a Megan Bashak single. After Sito walked with two outs, Ciminelli doubled off the wall in center to score both Bashak and Sito.
The two-run double capped a five-for-six effort with four RBI by Ciminelli in the twinbill.
Macenko was nearly untouchable, allowing just one hit in seven innings with eight strikeouts. She allowed just two base runners in the game, a lead-off walk to Jordan Rutkowski in the fifth and a double by Ichiyama to lead off the seventh.
Macenko's performance allowed her to improve on her record-setting career.
She struck out 20 batters in the twinbill to break the CSU single season strikeout record with 326 this year, besting the old record of 325 by Amy Kyler in 1997. Her performance also allowed her to become just the second pitcher in league history to strike out 1,000 batters in a career. She now has 1,018 in her four seasons.
She now has a school-record 35 wins this season, giving her 115 career victories, tying her for 21st on the NCAA career wins list. She also now ranks tied for 11th in games pitched (186), eighth in game started (162), 16th in complete games (130) and 21st in inning pitched (1,082).
After breaking the school record for wins in a season last week, CSU went two better this weekend, joining Notre Dame and UIC as the only program in league history to win 40 games or more in a season. UIC has accomplished it 10 times and Notre Dame, which is now in the Big East, did it once.
The Vikings will close the regular season on Sunday when they play Valparaiso in the final game of the three game series beginning at 12:00 noon at Viking Field. Prior to the game, CSU seniors Amanda Macenko, Lia Gordon and Mimi Mahon will be honored in a pre-game Senior Day ceremony.