May 4, 2014
BOISE, Idaho -
The stage was set and all Mackenzie Whyte had to do was write the final line of the script. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Whyte, Boise State's senior shortstop, delivered a walk-off home run to lift the Broncos to a 5-4 win and series sweep against New Mexico Sunday, on senior day at Dona Larsen Park. The thrilling victory runs Boise State's win streak to eight games and the Broncos have now been victorious in 12 of their last 13 games.
The win for Boise State (30-19, 14-7 MW) coupled with Fresno State's loss Sunday, moves the Broncos into a tie for first place in the Mountain West as the teams enter the final weekend of play. The Broncos and Bulldogs are one game ahead of San Diego State, who hosts Boise State May 8-10. The Broncos won the season series from Fresno State, giving them the tiebreaker should that become a factor.
Whyte finished 2-for-4, her first multi-hit game since returning from a knee injury that forced her to miss 12 games in April. She has not let it derail her senior season, striking for a double in the fourth inning and the dramatic home run to end the game.
Rebecca Patton enjoyed her senior day by pitching a complete-game for her 25th win of the season. Patton allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits and one walk. She struck out five in the game, including one in a crucial spot in the second inning and back-to-back looking strikeouts to end the sixth.
New Mexico opened the scoring with one run in the second inning. The Lobos used a leadoff triple and a squeeze bunt to score the run. After scoring, they had runners at second and third with still no outs, but Patton escaped the jam. After a ground out to first, she got her second strikeout of the game and induced another ground ball to end the inning and keep the Broncos within one.
It was not until the fourth inning that Boise State responded. Whyte led off with an impressive at bat, eventually doubling to the gap in right center on the 13th pitch. Fellow senior Megan Harvey moved her to third with a sacrifice bunt. With two outs and Whyte still at third Tara Glover, also celebrating senior day, stroked a base hit up the middle to tie the game.
The Broncos were not done in the frame. A hit batter and a walk loaded the bases for Ashley Palmer. On the eighth pitch of the at bat, Palmer delivered a sharp ground ball down the first base line and into the right field corner to clear the bases. She was eventually thrown out between second and third to end the inning but not before all three runs scored and the Broncos led 4-1. The clutch hit was nothing new for Palmer who is now 6-for-10 with the bases loaded and has 27 two-out RBI on the season.
The lead did not last long. A leadoff single in the fifth inning snapped a string of nine-consecutive batters retired by Patton. Three Boise State errors in the fifth inning helped New Mexico score three times and tie the game.
Boise State bounced back immediately, putting two runners on base in the fifth inning with one out but could not push the go-ahead run across.
After Patton breezed through the top of the sixth, including a pair of looking strikeouts to finish off a perfect inning, the Broncos had an even better chance to score in the bottom of the inning. Glover drew a leadoff walk and was at second base with one out after her second steal of the game and 35th of the season. She moved to third on a ground out but was stranded there when the inning ended.
Another three-up, three-down inning in the top of the seventh was due in large part to strong defense by Jordan Kreiger at second base. Kreiger ranged far to her right to field a ball headed for center field and get the first out of the inning. Then after Patton's fifth strikeout Kreiger went the other way, snagging a line drive in the hole just before it reached the dirt. The defense sent the Broncos into the home half of the seventh still tied 4-4.
Two quick outs brought Whyte to the plate and soon after she crushed a 1-0 pitch to left field. The line drive snuck over the fence and set off a wild celebration at home plate. The second walk off home run by a Bronco senior in as many days ensured the Broncos of their third sweep in the last four conference series.
Whyte was the only Bronco with two hits in the game as Boise State managed just five as a team but it was enough to score five runs and come out on top.
The Broncos will take their eight-game winning streak to San Diego State for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday series this week to wrap up the regular season.