For all of the offensive firepower on display at the Curtis Park Softball Complex on Tuesday, the irony in Philipsburg-Osceola’s 7-6 win over archrival Bald Eagle Area is that the winning run was scored without the benefit of a base hit or a ball leaving in the infield.
The two District 6 Class AA heavyweights traded knockout punches across the first three innings with the result being a 6-6 stalemate. Five P-O runs came as a result of home runs while BEA got a pair of runs on an Olivia Andrews homer.
But in the bottom of the fourth, the BEA defense sprang a leak that led to the decisive run.
With one out Maggie Peck drew a walk, and when Megan Bainey’s sacrifice bunt attempt was misplayed, Peck took third. McKenzie Burge drove her in from there with a groundball out to shortstop.
“Their infield was flawless and ours wasn’t,” said BEA coach Curt Heverly. “They played really good defense and we didn’t play well. And they always get a couple of home runs here. I’m just glad we were able to get one too.”
The Lady Mounties opened the scoring in the bottom of the first when Burge dropped a double right on the line in the right field corner and Haylee Hayward homered to right center.
“It was a nice feeling to get that,” Hayward said. “That one was pretty much for the team. I’ve been in a little slump lately. I wasn’t looking for any particular pitch. In fact, that’s been my problem lately, just thinking too much. Everyone told me to just get in there and do what I know how to do.”
BEA took the lead against Peck in the top of the second on a hit batter, two walks, RBI singles by Andrews and Mikala Smith and an outfield error.
P-O answered the BEA outburst with a four-run rally of its own on singles by Chelsey Henry, Megan Bainey and Hayward, an error and Peck’s three-run bomb to dead center.
“Coach has been talking about getting that clutch hit when it matters so it was nice to get one that helped the team get ahead,” Peck said “ I wasn’t sure it was going out. It had nice pop off the bat but it was hit high and I was just happy it cleared the fence.”
“The way this game started I thought it was going to be 55-54,” quipped Mountie coach Jim Gonder. “That rally in the second inning was really big. We were feeling pretty good being up 2-0 with Maggie pitching, but to their (BEA’s) credit they came back and scored four runs with two outs. For us to answer with four runs was a big part of the game. Finally the middle of our order got some clutch hits. We hadn’t been doing that. We told the three-four-five hitters (Burge, Hayward, Abby Showers) that we didn’t want them up there taking on a 2-0 count. We wanted them to hit.”
For the day the trio was 4-for-8 with a homer, double and four RBIs.
Peck got the win in the circle, giving up five hits, six runs, walking two and striking out two before giving way to reliever Morgan Thompson in the sixth. The freshman gave up two hits with a strikeout in relief.
“For whatever reason, Maggie didn’t have it today,” Gonder said. “Morgan came in and threw strikes. She looked comfortable out there. I like her tempo. She just catches the ball and throws it.”
“I just had an off day,” Peck said. “Mechanically I just wasn’t on. But Morgan came in and did a great job.”
In the seventh, Thompson and her defense choked off any BEA threat. Haley Giedroc led off with a line drive to center that Bainey came in on and made a diving catch. And after Marissa Tobias stroked a two-out single, McKenzie Proctor hit a sharp grounder to third that Hayward fielded and threw to first for the final out.
“I can’t say enough about Megan Bainey,” Gonder said. “If she doesn’t get that ball it probably skips by her and they’ve probably got a runner on third. She has made four or five spectacular catches this year.”
Moreta Dyke took the loss, allowing seven hits, two walks and getting three strikeouts.
“We just didn’t play well,” Heverly said. “I don’t know what it is. We have a better team than we’re showing.”
The win puts P-O in the driver’s seat for the Mountain League title as the season heads into the stretch.
“That’s always one of our goals, to win the Mountain League,” Gonder said. “This win will help. This was a key win for us.”