TUCSON, Ariz. - Hayle Guess tied a school-record with seven RBI, including hitting her first career grand slam, as Mississippi State (35-25) defeated Pacific (34-23), 7-1, in Game One of the 2007 NCAA Regionals. With the win, State advances to the winner's bracket.
"I thought Kelli (Miller) came out and did a nice job for us on the mound," said MSU head coach Jay Miller. "Obviously, we had a big swing by Hayle (Guess) to put us ahead. It's a lot easier to play when you get a little bit of a lead. I felt we did a real good job putting the pressure on them. Overall, we did a real nice job defensively, offensively, and on the mound."
After Kelli Miller retired Pacific in order in the first inning, Chelsea Bramlett drew a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning. However, Bramlett was thrown out trying to steal second for just the fourth time this year. After Hayle Guess lined out to third, Courtney Bures lined what looked liked a base hit into right field. But, Vianney Campos fielded the ball and quickly fired to Jennifer Curtier at first before Bures reached.
In the second, Miller got the first two hitters to ground to short. Lauren Weyman then hit a 3-1 pitch through the left side for the first hit of the game, and stole second sliding in just ahead of Bramlett's tag. But, Miller struck out Karie Wilson, leaving Weyman at second and ending the inning.
After taking the count to 3-1, Katie Cooley grounded out to short to leadoff the second for MSU. Sammie Jo Bailey then blooped a 2-2 offering down the left field line. But, Lizzie Hagen made a diving catch to keep the Bulldogs hitless. Katie Johnson then took a 3-2 pitch that caught the inside corner to end the inning.
Once again, Miller retired the first two Pacific batters in the third. But, Gina Carbonatto beat out an infield single to extend the inning, and then stole second. Miller then got ahead of Hagen, 0-2, but threw four straight balls to lose her, and the Tigers had first and second with two outs. However, Alyce Jorgenson flied out to deep left center field to end the inning.
MSU broke the scoreless tie in the third. Jessie Bailey drew a four-pitch walk to leadoff the inning. After failing to get down a bunt, Blair Hewett singled to center field. Nakita Boyce then fought back from a 0-2 count to draw a walk, loading the bases with no outs. After Bramlett forced Bailey out at home, Guess took Chelsea Engle's 0-2 offering over the right center field wall. The grand slam the team's fourth of the year, setting a new record. Bures then walked, but was forced out on Cooley's ground ball. Sammie Jo Bailey ended the inning grounding to second, but not before the Bulldogs grabbed a 4-0 lead.
Katie Johnson led off the following inning with a single through the left side. Jessie Bailey and Blair Hewett followed with walks, again loading the bases with no outs. After Engle fell behind 2-0 to Boyce, she was replaced by Heidi Helberg, who struck out Boyce on four pitches. After Bramlett forced Johnson out at home, Guess hit the first pitch up the middle, scoring Bailey and Megan Bateman, and giving MSU the 6-0 advantage. Bures then grounded to third to end the inning.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Campos and Carbonatto hit back-to-back singles. But, Hagan forced out Campos at third, and Jorgenson forced Hagen at second, getting Miller out of the inning.
Guess tied the record in the sixth. With one out and Bramlett on first, Guess hit a double off the left center field wall, bringing in Bramlett with the final run.
The Tigers ended Miller's shutout bid in the seventh. With Casey Goldsand on first, Carbonatto hit a double into the right center field gap, bringing her home with Pacific's only run.
Guess was 3-4 with a double, a grand slam and seven RBI. Kelli Miller went the distance, striking out four to improve to 18-10.
State will face the winner of tonight's Arizona/Howard match-up tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. (CT) with the winner advancing to the championship game.