After building an early 5-0 lead, Independence needed a walkoff grand slam from Kim Rega to down visiting Tallmadge on Tuesday, 10-9.
The Blue Devils jumped on their guests with two runs in the first and three more in the second but allowed five unearned runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth before Rega’s long ball in the bottom of the seventh.
“Walking up to the plate my co-pitcher, Sarah Piteo, grabbed me and told me to just get a base hit,” Rega said. “She knows that when I try to kill the ball it never ends well and that was really helpful in calming me down.”
Rega hit the second pitch she saw into the parking lot behind the left center field fence to give the Blue Devils their 14th win of the season.
“I’m still in shock,” Rega said. “I had seen the pitcher quite a bit so my game plan was to leave the curveball outside. I waited for the second pitch and that’s when I hit the grand slam.”
Jenna Suhy, who finished the game 4-for-5, set the table in the first when she singled and moved to third on Rega’s double. Piteo then singled home Suhy and Maggie George and Olivia Pallini both reached on errors that gave the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead.
Sophia Trombetta started the second inning rally with a single and Suhy followed with her second base hit. Both runners advanced on a wild pitch and Piteo singled home Trombetta. Suhy scored on a ground ball and Piteo scored on an error to make it 5-0.
The Blue Devils committed two errors that led to five Tallmadge runs in the top of the fifth.
“Kim Rega pitched well enough to win but (the errors) and three hits in the fifth, which never left the infield, had us behind the 8-ball,” said Independence coach Garry Moore. “To her credit, she was able to put that all behind her to become the hero of the game.”
Piteo replaced Rega with one out in the sixth but Tallmadge went on to take a 9-5 lead.
The Blue Devils pulled to within 9-6 on Piteo’s solo shot in the bottom half of the inning then rallied in the seventh behind a leadoff single from Neenah Costanzo, a Trombetta walk and Suhy’s fourth base hit that loaded the bases for Rega.
“Being the leadoff hitter, I know it is my job to get on base in order to help with the team’s momentum,” Suhy said. “A game like this demonstrates that when everyone does their job, the outcome is a win.”
Rega, Piteo and Trombetta each finished with three hits and Rega led the Blue Devils with five RBI. Piteo also knocked in three runs. Pallini and Ashley Caputo both had two hits for Independence.
Elise Nelson earned the game ball for her efforts in centerfield.
“She had three outstanding catches,” Moore said. “If anyone was filming her she would have made the Sportscenter Top 10 plays, easily.”
Independence, ranked No. 10 in the latest Division III state coaches’ poll, improved to 14-2 on the year.