Riverdale Bap­tist soft­ball out­lasts Grace Chris­tian

Knights leave bases loaded in sev­enth in loss

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By TED BLACK tblack@somd­news.com Twit­ter: tblack­somds1

In a game that lasted more than three hours and ended just be­fore dusk, the Grace Chris­tian Academy soft­ball team squan­dered nu­mer­ous scor­ing chances and even­tu­ally lost to vis­it­ing Riverdale Bap­tist of Prince Ge­orge’s County, 18-15 on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Grace Chris­tian (3-3 over­all) scored the game’s first run then fell be­hind 8-3 be­fore ral­ly­ing for a forge a brief 10-8 lead. The Cru­saders (9-1) scored 10 un­earned runs over the last three in­nings and with­stood a late rally from the Knights, who pushed across one run be­fore leav­ing the bases loaded in the bot­tom of the sev­enth.

Grace scored the game’s fi­nal run in a strate­gic move that left Knights fans be­wil­dered and up­set. With two outs and the bases loaded and his team lead­ing 1814, Riverdale Bap­tist coach Keith Hutchins opted to in­ten­tion­ally walk Grace se­nior Sa­van­nah Pauko to force in a run and es­sen­tially bring the win­ning run to the plate.

As Riverdale Bap­tist re­liever Sa­van­nah Mar­shall was at­tempt­ing to throw four pitches well off the plate, Pauko stood as close to home plate as pos­si­ble just in case she could pos­si­bly make con­tact with one of Mar­shall’s pitches. Pauko even­tu­ally took her bases loaded walk, forc­ing in a run and nar­row­ing the Knights deficit to 18-15.

“I have never been in­ten­tion­ally walked,” Pauko said. “I was not ex­pect­ing that. I was hop­ing to get as close to the plate as pos­si­ble and maybe hit the ball. I had a good hit my third time up, but they wanted to walk me so there wasn’t much that I could do.”

Af­ter Pauko was in­ten­tion­ally walked with the bases loaded, Grace was slated to send Ash­ley Glover to the plate, but in­stead sent up sec­ond base­man Bri­ana Berry. It was the sec­ond time dur­ing the game that Glover had been skipped over in the or­der in fa­vor of Berry, but it proved ir­rel­e­vant when Berry struck out swing­ing on a 2-ball, 2-strike pitch to end the game.

“I thought we had some good hits to­day, but we still need to work on pitch­ing,” Grace head coach Sta­cie Buhl said. “De­fen­sively, we made a lot of mis­takes to­day. We made some plays, but we had too many mis­takes and mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tions.”

Pauko had drawn walks in each of her first two plate ap­pear­ances, but the Cru­saders opted to pitch to her in the fourth. Af­ter third base­man Karly Cohen walked, Pauko crushed a Mar­shall de­liv­ery into the gap in right-cen­ter field for a triple. Pauko then scored on the first of three straight Riverdale er­rors and that en­abled the Knights to score six runs in the in­ning to claim a 10-8 lead.

Both teams scored two un­earned runs each in the fifth, then the Cru­saders chased Knights starter Me­gan Reed by scor­ing seven un­earned runs in the sixth to forge a 17-12 ad­van­tage. Riverdale’s Leah Welling­ton capped the on­slaught by belt­ing a two-run home run off Cohen. Vashti John­son smacked a dou­ble in the sev­enth for the last Cru­saders run.

Riverdale scored five runs in the top of the sec­ond to take its first lead of the day, but that ap­peared to be short-lived. On a day when the two teams com­bined for more er­rors (13) than base hits (11), it was ac­tu­ally two stel­lar de­fen­sive plays that de­fused the rally. Knights catcher Kait­lyn Per­rotta chased down pop-ups in foul ter­ri­tory on con­sec­u­tive bat­ters for the last two outs of the in­ning, strand­ing three Cru­saders run­ners.

Grace scored two runs in the home half of the in­ning cour­tesy of Cru­saders start­ing pitcher Lee­lah Jack­son’s wild­ness and ap­peared on the brink of a big in­ning. But with the bases loaded and Glover at the plate, Reed at­tempted to take home on a wild pitch and was thrown out. Glover was then sup­posed to lead off the third, but the Knights sent Berry to the plate in­stead.

Grace was sched­uled to play at home ver­sus Model of Washington, D.C., on Thurs­day and is next slated to play at 3:30 p.m. Tues­day ver­sus Edmund Burke of Washington, D.C.

Grace Chris­tian first base­man Tiffany Shrader stands on sec­ond base as Riverdale Bap­tist pitcher Sa­van­nah Mar­shall goes into her de­liv­ery in Tues­day’s con­test. Grace led sev­eral times, but Riverdale even­tu­ally de­parted with an 18-15 vic­tory.

STAFF PHOTOS BY TED BLACK

Grace Chris­tian pitcher Me­gan Reed waits for a pitch in Tues­day’s con­test, an 18-15 loss to Riverdale Bap­tist.

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