Alyssa Arslanian brought the home crowd to its feet as she blasted a walk off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to lead the Tooele Buffaloes to an exciting 7-6 upset victory over the visiting Stansbury Stallions.
“It was exciting”, Arslanian stated after the game. “I wasn’t sure it went over, but I am glad that it did,” was Arslanian’s happy response when asked about the winning hit.
After holding Stansbury to three and out in the top half of the first inning, Tooele jumped on starting pitcher Kimbri Herring for three hits and three runs.
Centerfielder Hadli Sorensen led off the inning with a single. Kaitlyn Bitters. playing second base, laid down a perfect bunt for a single, but Sorensen was caught in a rundown for the first out. Tooele pitcher Lauren Frailey was hit by a pitch and shortstop Kirsten Zander walked to load the bases. After a strikeout, catcher Rylee Whitehouse battled Herring, fouling off six pitches before earning a bases loaded walk to push Bitters in for the game’s first score. First baseman Starley Pollei then smashed a single to knock both Frailey and Zander home to push Tooele to a 3-0 lead.
Stansbury battled right back in the second inning. After an infield out, first baseman Abby McIntyre and shortstop Lindsay Guyman both pushed singles past third base. Catcher Jacelyn Kaufman worked Frailey for a walk to load the bases with one out. Rightfielder Elise Sutherland battled several pitches before hitting a shot to center to score McIntyre for Stansbury’s first run. Kilee Christiansen hit a grounder to the right side, just out of reach of Tooele’s Bitters for a single that knocked in Guyman. Centerfielder Jenessa Bassett hit a hard shot to Bitters, who nailed Kaufman trying to score. A pop fly ended the inning with the Stallions trailing 3-2.
The Buffaloes threatened in the bottom half of the second inning. After an infield out, rightfielder Keyli Sorensen laid down a bunt for a single and her sister Hadli Sorensen hit a bloop single to left field. Pitcher Herring made an excellent catch of a popped up bunt and fired the ball to second base for a inning-ending double play to keep Tooele from scoring.
In Stansbury’s top half of the third inning, left fielder Katelyn Robinson lined a single to left field. The ball got by Tooele’s left fielder and Robinson ended up on third with no outs. After a strikeout, McIntyre hit a sharp ball to Zander at shortstop. Zander fired the ball to the plate to nail McIntyre in a close play to deny Stansbury from knotting the score. A fly out to right ended the inning with the score still 3-2.
In the bottom half of the third inning, Frailey opened up with a single. After a strikeout, Stansbury coach Bridget Clinton changed pitchers, putting in Beth Chipman on the mound. Arslanian greeted Chipman with a line shot to left, but Robinson made a fine catch for the inning’s second out. Whitehouse and Pollei both worked Chipman for walks to load the bases, but an infield out ended the inning.
In Stansbury’s top of the fourth, Sutherland walked and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Christiansen. With two out, Bassett singled Sutherland home and then stole second and third bases before scoring on a Tooele error and Stansbury taking a 4-3 lead.
Chipman walked Hadli Sorensen and Bitters in the bottom of the fourth. Stansbury got the second out, but Zander hit a grounder just out of reach of the third baseman and Sorensen and Bitters scored to regain the lead again 5-4. Arslanian then lined a shot to center to knock in Zander and Tooele led 6-4 after four innings.
Stansbury answered right back in the top of the fifth inning. Leading off, third baseman Karlee Manzione was hit by the pitch. An infield out advanced Manzione to second and Guyman singled her home. Kaufman then singled, putting Guyman on third. Kaufman was caught stealing second for the second out of the inning, but Sutherland drilled a deep shot over the right fielder for a double that brought Guyman in to score. The score was now tied 6-6.
Tooele’s left fielder Brin Stewart singled in the bottom of the fifth, but was stranded on second when Chipman got two Tooele hitters to ground out to end the inning. Neither team scored in the sixth inning.
After a strikeout to start Stansbury’s half of the seventh, Kaufman was safe on an infield error. Singles by Sutherland and Christiansen loaded the bases and the Stallions were threatening. Frailey got a called third strike for the second out and then she got Chipman to ground out to get out of the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, leadoff hitter Arslanian worked Chipman for a full count. She then crushed a deep shot to left that was just out of the reach of the left fielder and just cleared the fence for the walk off home run to lead Tooele to the big win over rival Stansbury.
Both teams battled each inning in an entertaining game and the large crowd showed its appreciation on some fine plays and displays of hitting.
First year Tooele head coach Melanie Nelson said she has told her team that they should “Choose what you do with what you are given”. She felt her team listened to her advice as they kept fighting back throughout the game.
Six walks aided the Buffs while Arslanian had two hits, including her game winning home run. Hadli Sorensen also scored a run and banged out two hits, while Zander and Bitters both scored twice. Sutherland led the Stallions with three hits and both Christiansen and Guyman had two hits.
Bear River leads Region 11 with a 4-0 record, followed by Grantsville with a 4-1 record. Tooele is 3-2 and Stansbury stands at 2-2 in league action.