First-year Julie Rooney hit a walk-off single to keep Denison's NCAA Tournament run alive on Friday afternoon in Alma, Mich. The Big Red eliminated Penn State-Behrend following a 5-4 come-from-behind victory.
Denison entered the bottom of the seventh in a two-run hole with the seven, eight and nine hitters scheduled to bat. With one out, sophomore Gretchen Staubach, one of the hottest hitters at the Alma regional, dropped a single into left field. After the base knock, junior Rosie Glaser entered to pinch run for the designated player. Senior Kait Fiore followed Staubach's hit with a single to center field.
With two on, senior Hannah Price stepped in and laced a base hit up the middle that scored Glaser from second and cut the deficit to 4-3. On the play, Price and Fiore advanced to second and third, respectively, on the throw home. After taking a first pitch ball, Rooney sent a towering fly ball into the DU dugout. With the count sitting at 1-1, the first-year third baseman drove a single up the gut that easily scored Fiore.
Without hesitation, head coach Tiffany Ozbun gave Price the green light, and she began to sprint towards the plate. The throw from center fielder Samantha Grismore came in late as the senior slid past the tag attempted by catcher Amy Greene. The safe call from home plate umpire Steve Verive sent the DU bench into a frenzy as they mobbed Price at the plate before turning their attention to Rooney.
The Lions jumped ahead with a single run in the third frame on a base hit to center. The Big Red quickly answered in their half of the third when a ground out by Rooney drove in Staubach. In the sixth, Penn State-Behrend pushed across three runs on four hits, a walk and an illegal pitch. In the bottom of the inning, a double down the left field line by sophomore Meghan Edwards scored Rooney and shrunk the deficit to 4-2.
Denison reliever Becca Dyer struck out Ashley Gruber to open the seventh frame. After allowing a single to Greene, the sophomore hurler got Callie Markovich to fly out to Fiore. With two on and two down, Dyer induced a fly out to Price that set the stage for the late-game heroics.
Dyer (7-4) picked up the win after surrendering one hit and striking out one in 1.1 innings out of the pen. Starter Kelsey Hager gave up four runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. Offensively, Rooney finished with two hits, three RBIs and a run, while Price (pictured scoring the game-winning run) and Fiore each posted two hits and scored a run.
The Big Red improves to 28-18, while Penn State-Behrend ends its season with a 26-15 record. Denison returns to action on Saturday when they take on fourth-seeded Chicago at 10 a.m.