The game-winning blast was Gilliland's first of the year and extended the Wildcats' (8-1) winning streak to eight games. Fort Hays fell to 4-1 even though pitcher Maddie Holub (2-1) struck out nine and clubbed two home runs.
Batting in the No. 3 spot, Holub teed off against ACU starter Caitlyn Crain in the first with a solo shot, and added a two-run bomb in the third that stretched the Lions' lead to 4-0. In between Fort Hays State scored an unearned run on the first of three ACU errors.
After Holub's second bomb chased Crain from the game, Shelby Hall came in from the bullpen and somehow survived 2.0 scoreless innings despite surrendering seven hits. The Lions left the bases loaded against Hall in the third, and in the fourth, right fielder Lyndi Smith gunned down Holub at home plate to keep the Wildcat deficit at four.
Fort Hays threatened again in the fifth with runners at second and third with no outs, but Peyton Mosley (3-1) left them stranded with back-to-back strikeouts followed by an infield pop up.
Mosley, who pitched 9.0 innings during Friday's 4-3 win vs. Midwestern State, came back in the sixth to retire the side in order, and then got three more infield flies with a runner at second in the seventh.
ACU's offense, meanwhile, generated only two hits up until the seventh on top of leaving eight on base, including three in the fifth. But all that of that frustration would soon dissipate throughout the final inning as all nine Wildcats were sent to the plate.
The inning began innocently enough with No. 9 batter Courtney Flanary drawing a leadoff walk, which was immediately followed by Madison Buckley's RBI triple, Keanna Winkfield's single, and an RBI double to the gap by Sara Vaughn.
Cleanup hitter Kimberly Briggs made it a one-run game with an RBI ground ball to short, and after Megan Brigance battled for her third walk of the game, Smith tied the score at 4-4 after reaching on a fielder's choice.
Sarah Martinez made the second out with a roller to first, bringing Gilliland to the plate, who at that point was 0 for 2 vs. Holub with a strikeout. Head coach Bobby Reeves pinch hit for Gilliland previously in the sixth, but opted to keep her in the game at this crucial point.
The decision paid off. Gilliland crushed the ball over the fence, leading to a jubilant postgame celebration at Midwestern State's Mustang Park.
The Wildcats return to action next weekend as part of the multi-team tournament field at Texas Woman's University. Opponents will include the Lions, Truman State, Central Missouri, Northeastern State, and Emporia State.