RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The first game, seemingly, was over as soon as it started.
The other turned out to be an extra inning marathon that, seemingly, nobody wanted to win.
But when the dust finally settled after the University of Rio Grande’s River States Conference Sunday afternoon twin bill with Indiana University Southeast, it was the host RedStorm who was basking in the glow of a doubleheader sweep.
After an 8-0 mercy rule-shortened win in the opener, a two-out, bases-loaded error in the bottom of the 11th inning allowed the winning run to score in a 6-5 victory over the Grenadiers in the nightcap at Rio Softball Park.
Rio Grande pushed its winning streak to eight straight, improving to 28-10 overall and 13-1 in conference play.
IU Southeast, which has battled Rio for supremacy in the RSC in recent years, fell to 9-20 overall and 3-7 against league foes.
The losses also sent the Grenadiers into fourth place in the RSC West Division and, for the time being, out of the post-season picture.
Sunday’s game two was Rio Grande’s longest contest in terms of innings, ironically, since a 2-1, 14-inning triumph over IU Southeast on April 2, 2017.
The 3-hour, 10-minute marathon was the RedStorm’s longest game in terms of time since matching the exact time of the 14-inning game from five years ago.
Rio’s game-winning rally began with a two-out single by sophomore Cierra Clark (Plain City, OH) — her fourth hit of the game.
Sophomore Christen Risner (Wheelersburg, OH) followed with an infield single and sophomore Caitlyn Brisker (Oak Hill, OH) was unintentionally intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a force play.
Senior Shelby Schmitt followed with a ground ball to third which IU Southeast’s Hailey Smith failed to play cleanly, allowing Clark to race home with the winning run.
The dramatic finish capped a wild outing, which saw Rio Grande erase a 5-0 deficit with an improbable seventh inning rally.
Clark opened the inning with a single, Risner reached on an error and Brisker followed with a three-run home run to make it 5-3.
Schmitt and junior Taylor Webb (Willow Wood, OH) followed with back-to-back singles and senior Zoe Doll (Minford, OH) clubbed a run-scoring double to right to make it 5-4.
Senior Kenzie Cremeens (Ironton, OH) tied the game with a sacrifice fly to left, but the RedStorm missed a chance to win in regulation when freshman Jenna Myers (Hebron, OH) lined out to third and sophomore Lexi Carnahan (Felicity, OH) struck out swinging.
Rio Grande also left two runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings and left the bases loaded in both the 10th and 11th frames.
All totaled, the RedStorm stranded 18 runners in the victory.
In addition to Clark’s career-high four hits, Brisker, Webb, Doll and Risner all had two hits each.
Sophomore Kali Brickman (Huber Heights, OH) — the last of three Rio pitchers — earned the win with a scoreless inning of relief.
Brooklyn Gibbs started and went the distance for IU Southeast. She allowed 15 hits and six walks, while striking out seven and throwing a whopping 196 pitches.
Lindsey Nelson went 4-for-4 with a run batted in for the Grenadiers, while Gibbs and Katie Cook had two hits and two RBI each. Katie Templeman also had two hits in the loss.
Game one had far less drama and took just over a hour to complete.
Rio Grande batted around in a four-run first inning and never looked back.
Brisker finished 3-for-3 with a double and Myers hit a two-run home run and finished with three RBI, while Webb, Cremeens and Carnahan all had two hits.
Doll added two RBI in the winning effort.
Senior Raelynn Hastings (Commercial Point, OH) tossed her third straight shutout, allowing seven hits over five innings.
Gabby Mahoney started and lost for Southeast.
Ellie Jackman finished 2-for-3 in a losing cause.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.