Senior left fielder Shayne Lotito led off the first inning of Game Two with an at bat that would set the tone for the whole game.
After working the count to 2-2, she fouled off a pitch high and away. Then, she fouled off a pitch low and away. Low and away, again ‘-‘- same result. Up and in ‘-‘- same result. A ball later, on a full count, she hit an infield single through shortstop.
Two stolen bases later, she scored on an overthrow by the catcher.
It wasn’t by the book, at least not Merv Rettenmund’s, or even Tom Emanski’s, but Rickey Henderson would approve. It was exactly what every leadoff hitter should aspire to, and it sparked the Terriers on Thursday.
Lotito’s table setting mentality was sighted in the first game during the Terriers five-run rally in the fourth, as well. Freshman Erica Casacci led off with a bunt single, and Lotito followed it up one of her own ‘-‘- all before April Setterlund, Melissa Dubay and Christy Leath went double, double, homer, respectively.
But teams like the 2008 Arizona Diamondbacks will attest: the table setters make the difference. After catalysts Eric Byrnes and Orlando Hudson went down with season-ending injuries, the back end of the Diamondbacks’ order was forced to go for it all, every time up.
With no runners in scoring position, the meat of the order had to put itself in scoring position by swinging for the fences. As a result, third baseman Mark Reynolds struck out 204 times.
In contrast, BU’s ability to put runners on early echoes throughout the lineup.
With Casacci already on second and Lotito on third, Rhode Island pitcher Catherine Smith got rattled. A wild pitch advanced the pair to second and third, and Smith hung one high in the zone to Setterlund.
When runners are on, the pitcher’s attention is divided between the runners and the batter, not to mention the pressure of the situation. At the same time, a lack of base runners in crunch time takes pressure off the pitcher and puts it on the hitter to ignite a spark herself.
During the last three innings of Game One, Rhode Island didn’t put any runners on base early in innings. The result: BU pitcher Kelley Engman found herself in the driver’s seat, en route to the majority of her six strikeouts.
Less than half of Rhode Island’s leadoff batters reached base in Game One. BU only had one leadoff runner fail to reach base.
It’s no surprise BU came through with the twin-bill sweep.