JACKSONVILLE, FL – The University at Buffalo softball team dropped a pair of games on Saturday at the Jacksonville Invitational, hanging tough with North Carolina, the 25th ranked team in the country heading into the season.
The Bulls began this morning with a 12-1 loss to Bethune-Cookman as UB had four errors in the game. Bethune-Cookman scored the first 12 runs of the game before the Bulls finally crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Holly Luciano reached on an error to start the inning and then stole second. She advanced to third on a groundout and then scored on a single by freshman Sammi Gallardo.
In the afternoon game the Bulls hung tight with the Tar Heels, racing out to a 4-1 lead through two innings. After a scoreless top of the first for UNC, the Bulls got their bats going early. Luciano, batting leadoff for the first time, reached on an infield single and then moved to second on a hit from Ashley Bertot. The two then moved up on a double steal and Luciano would come home to score on a Kristin Waldron groundout, moving Bertot to third. Bertot would come home to score on a sacrifice bunt from sophomore Jessica Griffin.
North Carolina cut the lead to one in the top of the second on a leadoff home run, but the Bulls responded with two more runs in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Andi Saucier drew a one-out walk and then with two outs in the inning stole second. She would come home to score on a double to center field by Luciano. However, Luciano wasn't at second for long as Bertot followed that up with another double to center field scoring the run.
Those would be the last runs for the Bulls as North Carolina scored two in the fifth and one in the seventh to send the game into extra innings. The Tar Heels exploded for five runs in the top half of the eighth to take the 9-4 victory.
Freshman Tori Speckman got the start for the Bulls, pitching 4.1 innings and striking out three. Land picked up the loss as she allowed six runs in 3.2 innings pitched.
Luciano finished the game against the Tar Heels 2-for-3 from the plate, scoring two runs. She also scored the only run of the game in the opener against Bethune-Cookman. Bertot finished the game 2-for-4 from the plate with an RBI and a run scored.
The Bulls wrap up play in Jacksonville with a single game tomorrow against Kansas beginning at 9:00 am.