Since his team’s bats have gone quiet recently, Bald Eagle Area’s Curt Heverly has had to take a new approach.
“We’re not hitting very well so we’re trying to create havoc,” he said after his team outlasted Bellefonte 6-5 in 10 innings Friday. “We’ve had to go that way.”
So his Lady Eagles stole seven bases, laid down two sacrifice bunts and ran the bases aggressively in the battle of backyard rivals that went to the international tiebreaker. They also made the most of the five hits they scratched out against Lady Raider Tara Baney.
“Their pitcher is tough. She’s not easy to hit,” Heverly said.
She held the Lady Eagles to one hit through the first four innings while her teammates were nicking Sidney Shultz for four runs in that stretch.
They got a run in the first when Liz Linn reached on a fielder’s choice and Sarah Menna doubled down the left field line.
BEA matched that without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the first when Haley Giedroc drew a walk, stole second and scored when Marissa Tobias’ grounder to second was mishandled.
Bellefonte grabbed the lead in the second when Taylor Maurer, Jess Fishburn and Jenna Ault strung together consecutive singles and took advantage of an error and a wild pitch to go ahead 3-1.
In the fourth, they added a run when Fishburn walked and scored on a double by Baney. A BEA double play prevented more damage.
“Our defense didn’t start real well but then they did better,” Heverly said. “And Sidney, after she gave up those early runs, settled down and was solid for the next six innings. She kept us in the game.”
Shultz retired 12 of 13 batters she faced from the fifth through the ninth and didn’t allow a batter to get past first base.
Meanwhile, BEA drew within a run in the fourth. Olivia Andrews opened the inning with a clean single to right, the first hit allowed by Baney. One out later Mikala Smith’s sacrifice bunt attempt was thrown away, allowing her to reach base and Andrews to take third. Smith then stole second and the throw was wild allowing Andrews to score and Smith to reach third from where she scored on a wild pitch.
And aggressive base running by Morgan Nyman allowed BEA to tie the score in the seventh. With two outs and faced with a full count, Nyman beat out an infield hit. Giedroc followed with another infield hit on a 2-2 count and Nyman never hesitated rounding second and going to third. Tobias then bounced a single off the plate allowing Nyman to score from third with the tying run.
BEA left runners in scoring position in the eighth and ninth innings while Shultz kept the Lady Raiders at bay.
In the 10th, the game went to the international tiebreaker in which the runner who made the last out the previous inning starts the next inning on second base.
In Bellefonte’s case that was Baney, who was replaced by Annie Lucas. Linn sacrificed her to third and Menna singled her home for the go-ahead run.
“They executed better than we did,” Heverly said. “We didn’t hit the ball real well but we scrapped.”
In its half of the 10th, BEA replaced Tobias at second with Kiersten Walker. Logan Fischer was hit by her sacrifice bunt attempt for the first out but Walker took third on Andrews’ infield out. Morgan Peters then got aboard on an error and when pinch runner Skyler Woodward took off for second the throw was wild allowing Walker to score the tying run and Woodward to take third. Heverly called for the bunt and Smith laid one down on a 3-1 count. The throw to first was bobbled allowing Woodward to score the game-winner.
“I knew I had to get the ball in play,” Smith said. “It was a chance to score the winning run. But I was nervous. I’ve bunted a couple of times before so I was expecting it. Thank God I was safe.”
“She’s a good bunter,” Heverly said. “I let her swing away at the first pitch hoping she might drive one up the middle. But I figured with two outs they had to throw her out at first. She actually bunted it a little hard and their second baseman didn’t have quite enough time to get to first.”
It was a hard way to lose a game that Raider coach Fred Caldwell described as one of his team’s best of the year.
“I thought we played very well,” he said. “We played well in all facets of the game until we started to boot the ball around on a couple of plays. I thought we’d get the out at first there in the 10th but we didn‘t get it.”