May 3, 2014 2:00 AM by Jordan Mason
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - The University of Colorado Colorado Springs trailed by five runs early to Fort Lewis, rallied to lead 10-7 after the fifth inning, but ended on the short end of an 11-10 contest in the RMAC Tournament semifinal game tonight at the Colorado Mesa Softball Stadium. The Mountain Lions (27-18) will play the winner of Adams State and Metro State at noon in the consolation bracket semifinal on Saturday.
The Skyhawks opened the game with five runs in their first two innings on offense with six hits. UCCS scored its first run in the bottom of the second with a run by Emily Jennings on a single up the middle by Becca Needler in the start of a 10-2 UCCS scoring stretch in three-and-a-half innings.
Korey Kulpins started the bottom of the third inning with a double to right field and Jourdan Hitchings drew a four-pitch walk to put runners at first and second with no outs. Claire Nibbe moved both into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, and Jessica Belsterling scored both of them with a single through the left side. She would later score on a sacrifice fly, and Emily Jennings would complete the four-run inning after scoring on a single from Nikki Hoffman.
Fort Lewis would add another two runs in the top of the fourth to make it a 7-5 Skyhawk lead, but UCCS would take its first lead of the game in the bottom of the inning with another four-run performance. Kulpins and Belsterling would both score again in the fourth, and were joined across home plate by Jourdan Hitchings and Nibbe for a 9-7 Mountain Lion lead after four innings.
Stephanie Chitkowski needed 10 pitches to keep the Skyhawks off the bases in the top of the fifth, and the Mountain Lions capitalized on an early Fort Lewis error to add another run in the bottom of the fifth for a 10-7 lead. The 10 runs marked the first back-to-back 10-run games for UCCS on the same day since March 30 against Colorado Christian.
Fort Lewis responded with three runs in the top of the sixth, and scored all of the runs with two outs. Dani Fonseca opened the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff double and advanced to third on a wild pitch, but couldn't reach home after the next three Mountain Lions were retired by the Skyhawk defense.
The Skyhawks scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh with a triple immediately followed by a double early in the inning. Fort Lewis recorded strikeouts in two of the three outs in the bottom of the inning to secure its trip in the RMAC championship game on Saturday afternoon. A win by UCCS in the consolation bracket semifinal would set up a rematch of tonight's game, and the Mountain Lions would need to win two games against the Skyhawks to secure the tournament championship.
Kulpins finished with a season-high three hits on four at-bats. Hitchings finished with her 20th multi-hit game of the season with a two-of-four performance at the plate. Chitkowski was credited with the loss after she earned the win in the first game of the day, a 12-1 win against Colorado State-Pueblo.