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Softball Tops Eastern Illinois In Extra Innings At Holy City Showdown, 6-5

Cammy Pereira stole home in the top of the ninth to help Furman to a 6-5 win over Eastern Illinois.
Cammy Pereira stole home in the top of the ninth to help Furman to a 6-5 win over Eastern Illinois.

Mt. Pleasant, S.C. -- Cammy Pereira stole home in the top of the ninth inning and left-hander Lindsey Bert stranded two runners on base in the bottom of the frame to lift Furman to a 6-5 victory over Eastern Illinois on Sunday night in College of Charleston's Holy City Showdown at Patriots Point.

The extra-inning victory improved the Paladins to 20-6 on the season, while the Panthers dropped their first game of the weekend to slip to 15-7.

In the top of the ninth inning, Pereira was placed on second base according to the international tiebreaker rule. After she advanced to third on a passed ball, Lindsey Bert struck out for the second out of the inning. Eastern Illinois' catcher fired a throw down to first base and Pereira broke for the plate, beating the throw back home from first to break the 5-5 deadlock.

The Panthers executed a sacrifice bunt to advance their tie-breaking runner to third base with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Bert got Kiley Pelker swinging for the second out of the frame before issuing a walk to Jennifer Ames to put runners on the corners with two outs. Leadoff hitter Kayla Bear, who had homered to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh, came to bat with two on and two outs, but Bert got her to bounce into a fielder's choice to end the game.

Bert worked all nine innings to earn her fourth victory of the week and improve to 13-4 on the season. The senior allowed just four earned runs on seven hits, while walking one batter and striking out nine to up her school-record win total over four years to 73.

EIU reliever Jessica Wireman (6-3) suffered the loss after giving up an unearned run on two hits over three winnings of work. She walked two batters and struck out five.

Furman jumped in front with a five-spot in the top of the fourth inning. Bert and Emma Ogburn reached base on back-to-back one-out singles and Hannah Reynolds followed with a towering three-run homer over the left field fence to open the scoring. Brittany Houston and Lauren Duggar both singled to run Furman's streak of consecutive hits to five batters before Caroline Cash pushed across the Paladins' fourth run on a sacrifice bunt. A throwing error by the Panther catcher allowed the fifth run of the inning to score.

Two Furman errors helped Eastern Illinois plate an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth. In the fifth inning, Haley Mitchell looped a two-run single to right field out of the range of a diving Casey Bigham before Mia Davis trimmed the Paladin lead to 5-4 with an RBI single.

After Bear's homer with one out in the bottom of the seventh tied the game and forced extra innings, Furman left the bases loaded in the top of the eighth. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, EIU's Taylor Monahan sent a hard grounder towards the hole on the left side of the infield, but Houston made a diving stop and threw out the lead runner, who was trying to advance from second to third, to end the inning.

Duggar, Ogburn and Houston each tallied two hits apiece for the Paladins, while Candace Johnson went 1-for-2 with three walks and Reynolds batted in three runs. Duggar swiped two bases as the Paladins totaled six stolen bases on the night.

Furman returns to action on Wednesday, March 14, when it hosts the Charlotte 49ers in a 4 p.m. doubleheader at Pepsi Stadium.