It’s a sequence nearly every kid dreams of being in on a softball or baseball field.
Two outs. Last inning. Full count. And an opportunity to come through with the winning hit.
Eastern Oregon senior Maryssa Santi got to experience that scenario Saturday, delivering in her final at-bat at Peggy Anderson Field.
Santi hit a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Mountaineers to a dramatic 3-2 win in the finale of their four-game series against No. 8 Southern Oregon.
“I was just in disbelief that that even happened to me,” Santi said. “That’s a dream moment. It was amazing. I’ve put a lot of sweat, blood and tears on this field. To have that be the way to go out, it was amazing.”
It was the only win Eastern managed during the weekend series, one that saw the EOU offense struggle against Southern’s pitching and score just two runs in the first three games.
But it was a win Santi and the Mountaineers won’t soon forget, and is a victory that could give them a boost going into the Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament.
“I’m just glad we were able to pull it off, especially in that fashion, especially a senior,” EOU head coach Erin Dickhausen said.
Eastern trailed 2-0 entering the team’s last home at-bat, but threatened when Madison Barr hit a one-out single and Lena Richards worked a walk with two outs.
The Raiders then brought in staff ace Gabby Sandoval — who won two games earlier in the series — to try and retire Santi for the final out.
But with the count 3-2, Santi belted the payoff pitch out to left field to set off a jubilant and emotional celebration.
“I have been here for four years, and I knew that was my last at-bat on this field,” Santi said. “I just took it one pitch at a time. When it was a 3-2 count, two outs, I just in my head right before I stepped in the box said, ‘This is four the last four years. This is the hit, this is the swing I’m going to have for all these years.’ It worked out for me.”
SOU scored its only runs in the sixth inning off of Ashton Kazmierski. The Eastern righthander finished allowing two runs — one earned — on nine hits in 5-2/3 innings. Lauren Spencer tossed the final 1-1/3 innings for the win in relief.
Karlee Coughlin took a no-decision for SOU, pitching 6-2/3 innings and giving up two runs on eight hits.
Richards, Chelsea Spanier and Barr all finished with two hits.
Dickhausen said the win was important not only for momentum going into the tournament, but for the team to also believe it could play with a top-10 team.
“I we’ve struggled the last couple weekends just proving to ourselves that. Just knowing we are in that elite group going into next weekend I think is going to play huge into our confidence and how we approach that first game.”
In Saturday’s opener, Eastern managed just one run against Sandoval, and the Raiders scored the final four runs of the game to earn a 5-1 win in the final CCC game of the weekend.
EOU’s lone run came in the second on an RBI single by Rayne Spencer, which tied the score at 1-all. SOU retook the lead on a Harlee Donovan RBI single in the fifth. Tayler Walker added a solo home run in the sixth and the Raiders tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh.
Spencer finished the contest 3-for-4, and Barr added two hits for EOU.
Hailey Kline took the loss, allowing five runs on 11 hits with a walk and five strikeouts in seven innings. Sandoval gave up just the one run on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.
The series opener on Friday turned into a pitchers’ duel between Sandoval and Kline, one that went the way of the Raiders, 1-0.
The only run came in the second on an error, though one that didn’t come without dispute. With two outs, Olivia Mackey hit a line drive to left field. Spencer made the catch for the apparent third out. The ball came out after the catch, allowing Paige Leeper to score, but appeared to come out on the exchange to Spencer’s throwing hand. The umpires ruled, though, rather than the ball coming loose on the exchange, that it was dropped, allowing the run to count.
That was enough offense for Sandoval, who gave up just two singles to Shevan DeFreitas. Sandoval struck out two and walked none in seven innings.
Kline, who took the hard-luck loss, gave up the one unearned run on six hits with three strikeouts in seven innings.
EOU hung with the Raiders in the second game Friday, but a late surge by SOU gave it the 6-1 win.
Santi, one of three Mountaineers with two hits in the game, drove in the only EOU run in the third on an RBI single to tie score at 1-all.
Donovan hit a two-run single in the fifth to make it 3-1, and the Raiders added three runs in the sixth.
DeFreitas and Barr both added two hits for the Mountaineers. Kazmierski took the loss, giving up three runs — two earned — on six hits in five innings. She struck out two batters.
The Mountaineers (23-20 overall, 15-12 CCC) who guaranteed a third-straight winning season with the win in the finale, head into the CCC tournament in Ashland as the No. 4 seed, and will open against No. 5 University of British Columbia Friday. The winner moves on to face SOU later Friday, while the loser drops to an elimination game Saturday.
“We’re excited to get on the field. We’re going to take it to UBC and show them what were really made of,” Dickhausen said.