May 21, 2004
Lincoln, Neb. --- Top-seeded California scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning to come back from a 1-0 first inning deficit for a 2-1 win over fourth-seeded Mississippi State in Friday's third game of the NCAA Regional at Bowlin Stadium.
With the victory, California improved to 48-11 on the season and advanced to Saturday's 12 noon semifinal game against regional host Nebraska (44-15), which moved on to the semifinals with a 2-0 win over Creighton in Friday's second game.
Mississippi State fell to 39-25 on the year and slipped into the loser's bracket for an elimination game with Florida Atlantic (55-17) to start at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs struck quickly against Bears starter Kelly Anderson, scoring a run before Anderson exited the game with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the first inning. Iyhia McMichael started the rally with an infield single, before Anderson hit Kate Jaspers and walked Jennifer Waterman to load the bases. After a bases loaded walk to Blaire Brown scored McMichael with the game's first run, Anderson was relieved by Kristina Thorson, who pitched out of the bases loaded jam by getting Lindsay Nelson to pop out to third, before striking out Tanelda McDonald and Callye Williams to end the threat.
Thorson was nearly perfect the rest of the way, allowing just one hit and one walk in seven innings of relief to improve to 25-3 on the year. Thorson has pitched 14 scoreless innings in California's first two NCAA Regional games with 15 strikeouts and just three hits allowed.
The Bears provided Thorson with the game-tying run in the bottom of the third inning, after Vicky Galindo singled to left with one out and advanced to second on Lindsay James' sacrifice. Galindo scored an unearned run when Haley Woods reached on an error by Mississippi State second baseman Lindsay Nelson.
Mississippi State starter Kelli Miller got out of the jam in the third inning without further damage, but the Bears struck again in the sixth inning, as Woods led off with a single to right and pinch runner Jessica Vernaglia advanced to second on Kaleo Eldredge's sacrifice. Vernaglia moved to third on Jessica Pamanian's groundout to third base and scored on Chelsea Spencer's two-out double to left-center for the winning run. Miller slipped to 11-10 on the season, despite pitching six solid innings and allowing just six hits and one earned run. She did not issue a walk and had no strikeouts.
Mississippi State's Iyhia McMichael started the game with a leadoff walk to reach base at least once for the 40th consecutive game...she has reached base safely in 63 of MSU's 64 games this season...McMichael, who scored Mississippi State's first run, is hitting better than .480 on the season and owns an on-base percentage above .600.
Mississippi State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and had won 10 of its last 11 contests in which it had scored the opening run. The Bulldogs gave up the tying run in the third inning and the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Bulldogs are 20-9 on the season when scoring the game's first run.
Kristina Thorson, So., RHP, California...14 scoreless innings in 2004 NCAA Regional...allowed just three hits, one walk, 15 strikeouts.
Vicky Galindo, Jr., 3B, California...hitting .500 (3-6) in 2004 NCAA Regional with one homer, two runs scored and one RBI.
Kaleo Eldredge, Jr., CF, California...hitting .500 (2-4) in 2004 NCAA Regional with one RBI, one run scored and one stolen base.
Chelsea Spencer, Jr., SS, California...hitting .400 (2-5) in 2004 NCAA Regional with one double and two RBIs.
Lindsay James, So., LF, California...hitting .400 (2-5) in 2004 NCAA Regional with one run scored.
California Coach Diane Ninemire
On the game:
"I thought we played a great game today. The first inning could have turned into some misfortune for us, but I think it really demonstrated the character of our team and how they won't go down without fighting to the very end. I was very proud of the confidence and maturity they showed in that first inning to get out of it. I felt like if we got out of the first inning with being only one run behind, that we would have a great shot to come back and turn the game around."
On playing Nebraska Saturday:
"It's going to be a great game. Peaches James is throwing very well, and they're getting the key hits in key situations. they've got good speed. Every team here is a great team, and tomorrow I just expect another championship-type of game between us and Nebraska."
California Pitcher Kristina Thorson
On relieving starter Kelly Anderson in the first inning:
"I always try to prepare myself for that possibility. You never want to go in when another pitcher is starting, because that means something has gone wrong. You have to prepare. You have to be able to think of the worst thing that could happen. You have to be able to handle pressure, because that was obviously a huge pressure situation."