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Victoria Gunnels' homer helps Molloy top Post in ECC title game

Molloy College first baseman Victoria Gunnels (wearing helmet,

Molloy College first baseman Victoria Gunnels (wearing helmet, face visible) gets mobbed by teammates after hitting a go ahead, two-run home run to give her team a 3-1 lead over LIU Post in the top of the sixth inning of Game 2 of the ECC final at LIU Post. (May 4, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Molloy first baseman Victoria Gunnels wasn't having a very good at-bat against LIU Post starter Megan Salcido in the sixth inning of yesterday's East Coast Conference title game. With the score tied at 1, Gunnels was attempting to bunt Dana White from first base to second, but fouled off the first two pitches.

Coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke wasn't pleased. "I go crazy with them when they don't put the bunt down," she said. Cassidy-Lyke said she thought to herself "You better figure out a way to get that runner there or I'm not going to be happy. I said the only way she's going to make me happy is if she puts it over that fence."

With the sacrifice off, Gunnels took the third pitch for a ball. Then, she really moved the runner all the way over, smacking a two-run home run over the leftfield fence that proved to be the decisive hit in Molloy's 4-1 victory and third conference title. Molloy had forced the deciding game by beating Post, 4-1, earlier in the day behind Megan Butterworth's five-hitter.

Gunnels, White and Butterworth each had an RBI in that victory. Molloy (47-12) earned an automatic berth to the NCAA Division II Tournament. Post (46-13) is also expected to receive a bid when pairings are announced Monday.

Gunnels may not have read her coach's mind, but she knew there was no joy after the missed sacrifice. "She likes small ball, she wants to move the runner over by any means necessary," Gunnels said. "I wasn't getting the bunt down. I had to find a way to move Dana over to second base somehow. It ended up being a home run. I didn't expect it to be like that."

Now working with a three run lead, Molloy starter Kelley Jansen just had to get through the next two innings. The only hit she had allowed came on a fifth inning home run by Paige Swantek. But Jansen had some difficulty in the sixth when, with one out, Post loaded the bases as Catherine Havens singled and Jansen walked Alexis Gonzalez and Nicole Hagenah.

Cassidy-Lyke made a trip to the circle to speak with Jansen. "She got frustrated she didn't get a call she thought she should have gotten," the coach said. "I said 'Listen you probably got a call you shouldn't have gotten. It's all about you, No one is better than you right now. You've done well, they only have one hit, you have to go at them.'"

Jansen struck out Aly Dzierzynski and got Maria Palmeri on a foul pop to the catcher to end the threat. She retired the side in order in the seventh and final inning, finishing with a one-hit, 11 strikeout performance.

It all seemed more satisfying because of Gunnels' homer. "After she had two strikes she really had to redeem herself," Jansen said, "and make something positive of the at-bat. She did well."

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