It seems to take a dramatic finish to decide games played between Chagrin Valley Conference rivals Independence and Kirtland.
Independence scored a run in the top of the eighth inning to defeat host Kirtland, 4-3, back on April 14 and the Blue Devils again used late-inning heroics to top the Hornets on Monday, 4-3.
“In the bottom of the seventh inning, we finally put things together to tack on some runs,” said Independence coach Mallory Kobak. “We are very happy with that seventh inning; however, it’s frustrating when our girls can’t do that in earlier innings, especially in a game like that.”
The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Jenna Suhy hit a one-out single and moved to second on an error. Kim Rega bunted her over to third and Suhy scored on Sarah Piteo’s single.
Kirtland scored two runs in the fifth and added another in the sixth to take a 3-1 lead.
Elizabeth Vernon’s one-out single started the fifth-inning rally. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a passed ball. Emily Ungrady walked and stole second. Both runners scored on an error.
Haleigh Getchell singled and scored on a passed ball in the sixth to give the Hornets the two-run cushion.
“Simple enough we just couldn’t finish it,” said Kirtland coach Jamie Kamensky. “We didn’t execute in the seventh. Emily threw another gem, but we had five big errors that we couldn’t bounce back from. We had our chances and we had our hits; today, it just didn’t all come together.”
Sophia Trombetta and Suhy both reached on bunts to lead off the Independence seventh. Rega then singled to center to pull the Blue Devils to within 3-2 and Sarah Piteo hit into a fielder’s choice to tie the game.
Olivia Pallini reached on an error to load the bases and Allysa Pallini was hit by a pitch to bring home the winning run.
“We are happy for the win but maybe not as happy as one might think,” Kobak said. “We are ready to move on to tomorrow to make the adjustments needed to be a better ball club. What I love most about this group of girls is their eagerness to learn and improve their game. Every day, each and every one of our players comes out with fire in their eyes ready to do whatever it takes to better themselves and in turn better the team. I truly believe that that is the difference in coming out on top, especially in tough games like these.”
Independence improved to 12-2 overall and 6-0 in the CVC. Kirtland dropped to 6-4, 4-2.