In the opening game of the 2015 National Tournament, the Saints lost a heartbreaker to the number 3 seeded Eagles.
Kirkwood came into the game with one of the most potent lineups in the nation, batting over .400 as a team and with 114 home runs.
Saints pitcher Portia McBride was up to the task, keeping Kirkwood off the scoreboard until a controversial call in the fifth inning changed everything.
Kirkwood led off the inning with a sharp double to right. After a bunt put the runner on third, McBride then struck out the next batter and got a two out ground ball to short. Emily Foy fielded the ball and fired to first, her throw was in the dirt and first baseman Kim Burdett grabbed in cleanly but the umpire, seemingly confused by the catch, hesitated and called the runner safe, allowing the runner to score.
Head Coach Brian Dewey argued the call, but the umpire wouldn't budge. Things would get worse in the inning after a base hit put runners on 1st and 2nd, the next pitch bounced in the dirt, but was stopped by catcher Lauren Nickerson. However the umpire ruled that the ball hit the batter, which allowed the bases to be full. Kirkwood then got a single to left to score two more runs.
"That was a bad break for us", said Dewey. "Kim made a great play on a ball in the dirt and the inning was over, no runs would have scored. But we aren't going to make excuses; umpires are part of the game too."
Despite the call at first, the Saints rallied to fight back. In the seventh, the Saints had two runners on with two outs before Portia McBride hit a shallow bloop to right that the right fielder couldn't get to in time, allowing two runs to score and the Saints were down 3-2. However, that would be as close as the Saints would get, as the game ended on the next batter.
"That was a tough way to lose a game, but no matter what happened in the fifth, we didn't play our best either.", said Dewey. "In the National Tournament, its always one play, break, or call that can decide the game. Today, we didn't get that. Kirkwood is a very good team, and very well coached, I thought Portia pitched outstanding."
McBride held the Eagles to just five hits and struck out eight to take the tough loss.
Mercyhurst will face Illinois Central Thursday at 1:30 (Central Time).