A daring, fifth-inning squeeze bunt gave the Hope College softball team its first lead of the NCAA Division III Holland, Michigan Super Regional opener.
Unfortunately for the Flying Dutch, Case Western Reserve University answered immediately.
A towering sixth-inning, leadoff home run into a strong wind and a seventh-inning RBI single handed the 17th-ranked Flying Dutch a 3-2 defeat at Wolters Stadium on Friday.
Hope (33-11 overall) must win twice on Saturday in order to advance to next week's NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m., weather permitting.
Case Western Reserve (36-9) needs one win on Saturday to advance.
The Flying Dutch beat the same opponent twice in the championship in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Tournament (Saint Mary's College) and the Holland, Michigan Regional (Calvin College.
On Friday, Hope grabbed a 2-1 lead with a two-run fifth.
First baseman Shay Pinhey of Ann Arbor, Michigan (Pioneer) singled to center to score Kanouse from second.
Leftfielder Jo Cook of Birch Run, Michigan (Birch Run) then laid down a squeeze bunt, and Diaz slid home in time to beat the tag.
Case Western Reserve starter Ilissa Hamilton (19-5) squashed any further damage by retiring the next two batters on a strikeout and a groundout.
Two pitches into the top of the sixth, Case Western Reserve's Sarah Miller launched a high drive into left field that tucked inside the foul pole for a tying homer. It was just the fourth home run yielded by Hope pitcher Sydney Jones of South Lyon, Michigan (East) in 602 at-bats against this season.
In the seventh, Case Western Reserve took the lead with a two-out RBI single from Nicole Doyle. Two batters later, after a Spartan hit, second baseman Sierra Mutschler of Wayland, Michigan (Wayland) threw out a baserunner at home to end the inning.
Hamilton retired Hope 1-2-3 in its half of the inning.
Jones (20-6) finished with seven strikeouts — giving her 234 on the season and surpassing her previous school record of 229.