In a game that pits two quality teams against each other, the result often favors the side that executes the best. Both Central Bucks East and Hatboro-Horsham had their issues on Thursday afternoon, but the latter made fewer mistakes and took home the victory.
CB East edged H-H, 3-2, in a clash of the respective first and third place Suburban One Continental clubs. The Patriots got a dazzling complete same from starter Kayla Ventura and Jenn Young hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the 10th to give CB East a moment of breathing room in the crowded Continental.
"Kayla did a great job, we know Hatboro can hit, so that was really important,' CB East coach Erin Scott said. "We knew that this was going to be a tighter game than last time [when we lost 7-4]. We have a young team and it's great for me to see that we are growing and that they are stepping up and fulfilling everything I thought they could.'
Although Ventura was outstanding, H-H pitching was not far behind. Lexi Campbell got the start and went 5 1/3 strong innings giving up just two runs, while Kaeli Simmons pitched the rest of the game and allowed just one run on one hit. With strong pitching like that from both sides, runs were always going to be at a premium.
"It came down to execution,' H-H coach Joe DiFilippo said. "You know I like my short game, but today, for some reason, we could not get bunts down and get the job done. We got every break in the world, but we just did not capitalize.'
H-H was first to strike in the second inning. Jacky Locke plated Jayne Black on a single with no outs, which was part of three consecutive base hits for the Lady Hatters. East countered the next half inning when Sydney Badger knocked in the tying run on a ground out to the shortstop.
A couple of innings later, in the sixth, the Patriots took the lead by way of Brady Tillotson's sacrifice fly. With Ventura dealing, East had to feel good about its chances in a one-run game. However, H-H has a never-say-die attitude, especially at home, and were not about to go down so easily.
"Their pitcher threw a great game,' DiFilippo said. "But our reliever came in and they didn't do much off of her. You know what, this was a softball game. It was about time we start seeing [competition] like this and it was a good game. The girls battle and that is all I can ask for.'
The Lady Hatters were down to their last licks, the bottom of the seventh, with two outs when Jen Cader blasted an RBI double to right-center to tie the game at 2-2. H-H did not manage to drive Cader in when it had the opportunity, an opportunity the Lady Hatters would rue later.
After a pair of unblemished extra frames by Ventura and Simmons, the International tiebreaker rule evoking the automatic runner on second base to start the 10th inning was in effect. East executed the obvious game plan well: bunt the runner on second over with the first out and use the last two to knock her home from third.
Kristina Posner dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runner over before Young sent her sacrifice fly to plate the winning run out to left center. Now down 3-2, H-H was hoping to take back the momentum and finish the game off in the bottom half of the 10th.
"I think we had 12 runners in scoring position, which is something I spoke to the girls about after the game,' Scott said. "[H-H's] second pitcher really threw well and kept us off balance. We had a hard time adjusting. We had opportunities and we were lucky enough to capitalize on one late.'
That never came to fruition. Kylie Flagler got the sacrifice bunt down to advance the automatic runner, but Andrea Baldus, who was pinch hitting for a pinch hitter, bunted into a double play to end the game on the next pitch. It was a very good play by the East defense and the team who executed the best took the spoils.
"It feels good to be where we are, but at the same time one of the things we are finding out this season is that any game could go either way,' Scott said. "There are so many teams that are so close in ability. We have to step up every day and work hard, a lot can happen at this point.'
CB East ab r h bi H-H ab r h bi
Marzetti c 5 1 1 0 Hallock ss 4 1 3 0
Dempsey lf 3 0 1 0 Moyer rf 4 0 0 0
Badger 2b 4 0 1 1 Edwards 3b 4 0 0 0
Grzegerczyk 1b 3 0 0 0 Cador cf 4 0 1 1
Schoerewood ph 1 0 0 0 Black 2b 4 1 1 0
Tillotson 3b 3 0 0 1 Locke DP 4 0 1 1
Haug ss 5 0 2 0 Flagler 1b 2 0 1 0
Ventura p 4 0 2 0 Schaffer c 1 0 0 0
Careghini rf 2 0 1 0 Griffith ph 2 0 0 0
Posner ph 1 0 0 0 Baldus ph 1 0 0 0
Young cf 3 1 1 1 Morz lf 3 0 0 0
Rollen pr 0 1 0 0
Totals: 24 3 9 3 Totals: 33 2 7 2
2B— Ventura; Cader; 3B— Badger
Central Bucks East 010 001 000 1—3
Hatboro-Horsham 001 010 000 0—2
ip h r er bb k
Ventura (W) 10 7 2 2 1 6
Campbell 5 1/3 9 2 2 4 0
Simmons (L) 4 2/3 1 1 1 1 5