Walk-off winner

Whether playing from behind or in front, when the Tigers put themselves in a position to win, MCC coach Tyrone Robinson likes his chances.

Achieving victory through both methods Wednesday, the Marshalltown Community College softball team swept Southwestern Community College on a windy and brisk afternoon at home to improve to 7-1 in its last eight games.

Lexie Biehl smashed a walk-off solo shot in the bottom of the ninth to send the Tigers to a 7-6 comeback win in the opener, before MCC held off a late Spartan surge in the nightcap for a 6-5 win in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference doubleheader.

While Danielle McIntosh’s unorthodox pitching motion seemed to throw off a few of MCC’s first batters when she entered in the eighth, Biehl had her number in the ninth.

“I hit really well of (McIntosh) before and I knew exactly what pitch I wanted,” Biehl said. “That’s how I turned on it. It was outside and I like outside pitches.”

The freshman finished 3-for-5 at the dish with 4 RBIs and two runs scored as the Tigers (24-14, 10-8) completed a four-game series sweep of the Spartans (13-18, 5-13) this season. Mackenzie Gott threw five shutout innings in relief and allowed just four hits and a walk, while striking out six batters to earn the win (3-2).

“We struggled with a couple things through the game but we didn’t give up. That was the difference in the game,” Robinson said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win in the last innings. That’s what I was telling them, ‘Give yourselves a chance to win it, then anything can happen at the end.'”

Gott started the second game and earned another win from the circle by keeping the Spartans largely in check until the sixth. Hannah Murphy and Peyton Russell both drew walks and Katrina Devore crushed a three-run homer to trim MCC’s lead to one.

Gott fanned McIntosh to end the scare, before Sarah Wilson induced a groundout from Murphy to earn the save in the seventh.

MCC had a different kind of scare in the first game as they played from behind much of the way and the Spartans scored six runs (three earned) off Wilson after the sophomore entered the day with a 23-inning scoreless streak.

“I told Sarah they were standing up in the box on us so her balls had to cut a little bit quicker than they were,” Robinson said. “Mackenzie came in and did a great job in both games. That was a real positive for her because she’s been struggling.”

Brooke Dunkin scored on a passed ball to give the Tigers a brief 1-0 lead in the first, though the Spartans retaliated in the second with a three-run double by Devore.

MCC knotted the score with RBI doubles from Biehl and Gott in the bottom of the second but Emma Ferin’s solo homer pushed SWCC back in front in the third.

Ferin went yard again with a two-run jack in the fourth to stretch the lead to 6-3, before Gott replaced Wilson in the circle in the fifth.

Biehl brought home Emmeline Huffaker and Whitney Baker with a two-run single in the sixth and McKenna Hotopp’s check swing-dribbler initially caught pitcher Sam Strand off guard to score Wilson for the tying run in the seventh.

McIntosh came on in relief in the eighth and kept MCC in check by turning a double play to end the inning, though Biehl replied with one of her own snaring Russell’s line drive and firing back to first to end Southwestern’s at-bat in the ninth.

Robinson implored his team, “Let’s feed off that play,” as they raced back to the dugout and Biehl did so with one swing of the bat to end the game.

Dunkin hit 2-for-5 with two runs scored, while Ferin led SWCC hitting 3-of-5 with two homers and three RBIs. McIntosh took the loss allowing one run and two hits in one inning, while Strand surrendered six runs on seven hits and issued six walks in seven frames.

McIntosh got some revenge at the dish in the nightcap as her two-run shot gave the Spartans a 2-1 edge in the third. MCC sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning with successive RBI doubles by Biehl and Gott giving the lead back to MCC. Tacie Blunck ripped a two-run single to right field to score Gott and Wilson and stretch the Tigers’ cushion to 5-2.

Gott escaped a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the fifth and Shaiann Treu plated Hotopp for an insurance run in the MCC’s ensuing at-bat before the Spartans rallied back within one. An extended workload for the lefty finally showed up in the sixth as a pair of walks and Devore’s three-run homer forced Robinson to bring in Wilson for the seventh.

“The walks kind of hurt you so you just look to pitch to contact,” Robinson said. “(Mackenzie) looked a little fatigued out there, it’s the first time she’s ever thrown back-to-back games so I saw the fatigue and that’s why I brought in Sarah to close it out.”

Treu and Dunkin paced the Tigers with two hits apiece and Blunk drove in three runs. Devore (3-for-4) led SWCC with three RBIs, a homer and two runs scored.

MCC sits fourth in the ICCAC and two games behind third-place DMACC (26-10, 12-6). The Tigers host seventh-place Iowa Lakes CC (13-21, 3-17) for a twinbill Friday starting at 3 p.m.