CHESTERLAND—Whether it was inspired by Senior Night or playing a game under the lights, West Geauga pushed visiting Perry to the limit in a 9-6 nonconference loss on Wednesday.
The host Wolverines had the bases-loaded and the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning before Perry’s Faith Hartman recording a strikeout to end the game.
“It was a battle of the tops of the lineups is what it looked like,” said Perry coach Joe Medlen. “Ours came out a little more on top today. They have a great lineup from top to bottom over there. I have a lot of respect for them and I have a lot of respect for Coach (Bob) Leppla and his program. He coached my daughter and I know what he’s all about. That’s a great program over there but our girls battled and had a lot of fun. That’s two good wins for us coming off a rough weekend.”
Perry led 6-2 after three innings but the Wolverines pulled to within 6-5 before Lilly Agostine’s three-run homer in the sixth gave the Pirates the insurance runs they’d need to seal their 10th win of the season.
West Geauga scored one in the bottom of the seventh before Hartman’s eighth strikeout ended the game.
“The kids played really, really hard tonight,” Leppla said. “We were minus a couple of our ballplayers but the girls rallied and came to play tonight. We came up just a hair short tonight but I’m proud of our effort. We keep battling. All year long, fifth, sixth, seventh inning, we stay in the ball game and we did that against a good team. It was a tremendous effort by us but tip of the cap to the Perry Pirates.”
Elle Infalvi got the Pirates started in the top of the first when she continued her assault on the softball with a triple that scored Hartman, who had drawn a leadoff walk.
Infalvi entered the game 9-for-12 in her last three games and was 5-for-5 in a win over Geneva on Monday.
Sydney Moon then walked and Emma Pietrzak hit a bases-clearing double to left field that gave the Pirates a 3-0 advantage.
West Geauga responded with a run in the bottom half of the inning when Keira Williams doubled and scored on Tara Gall’s single.
Emma Webb led off the Perry second with a walk and moved to third on Hartman’s single. Infalvi then singled home Webb and Pietrzak scored on Agostine’s single to push the Perry lead to 5-1.
The Pirates added another run in the third on back-to-back-to-back two-out singles by Hartman, Infalvi, and Moon.
The Wolverines loaded the bases in the bottom of the third but came away with just one run thanks to a great throw by Moon to throw out a runner tagging up from second to third.
Frankie Flesher was hit by a pitch to start the inning and Williams drew a walk. The Pirates recorded the first out but Gall followed by drawing a walk. Lauren Kretschman then hit a sacrifice fly to center and Moon ended the inning with her strike to Pietrzak at third.
“There’s somebody we’re going to without a doubt miss when she leaves,” Medlen said of Moon. “Syd is one of the best center fielders in Northeast Ohio and I’d go beyond that into Southern Ohio. She’s a heck of a kid, knows the game, knows the situation every time. She’s a great kid all around and battled today both offensively and defensively.”
West Geauga pitcher Haley Ottman retired the Pirates in order in both the fourth and fifth innings but the Pirates added three runs in the sixth.
Moon led off with a single and the Wolverines opted to intentionally walk Pietrzak for the third straight time after her first-inning double.
Agostine made them pay with a three-run homer to left.
“That was big,” Medlen said. “That’s about as excited as I have been in a long time. That’s a dream if you’re a competitive girl. They’re setting you up and you crush the ball for a three-run bomb. That was absolutely incredible but doesn’t surprise me. Lilly, since eighth grade, has maybe taken three days off…not many.”
After going in order in the bottom of the sixth, the Wolverines rallied in the seventh for what they hoped would be a come-from-behind victory.
Flesher led off with a double and Williams walked to put runners at first and second with no outs. Gall then drew a one-out walk to load the bases and then Kretschman picked up another RBI when she drew an eight-pitch walk to pull the Wolverines to within 9-6.
Ottman then hit a line drive to center but right at Moon, who made the catch and fired another strike to Infalvi at the plate to deter another runner from attempting to tag up.
Hartman went to a full count on the last batter before her final strikeout of the game.
Infalvi led the Pirates with three hits while Hartman, Moon, and Agostine collected two each.
Flesher and Gall both had two hits for the Wolverines.
Despite the loss, West Geauga gained plenty of respect from the Pirates, who have won 62 straight conference games and are one of the area’s perennial powerhouses.
“The ball club itself is made up of a lot of sophomores and juniors but we’ve had a lot of good success with those young players,” Leppla said. “Keira Williams is a senior. She’s a really good ballplayer and it’s good to have her and Tara Gall is the best pure hitter I’ve ever had in 30 years. She can just flat-out hit. We have some really good young players, a couple of five-toolers in Frankie Flesher and Shae Malone, so the future is bright. We’ve just got to get a little bit better and we’ll get there with experience.”