Lady Cavaliers walk-off against East Lincoln, 8-7
The East Rutherford Cavaliers needed nerves of steel and some late-inning heroics to overcome a hard-hitting East Lincoln Mustang squad and a multitude of errors and to pull out the 8-7 victory to advance to the third round of the playoffs.
“I turned around to a good friend of mine who was sitting in the dugout and said, ‘I’m getting too old for this,’” East head coach Julie Powell said after the win. “Apparently we are going to be a seventh inning team in the playoffs but I’m telling you they fight, they fight, they fight. They don’t ever let up, they stay positive and they just dig.”
The Mustangs, fresh off their upset of Maiden in the first round of the playoffs, jumped on the Cavaliers in the top of the third with the help of what turned out to be the first of a string of uncharacteristic errors by the defense.
Kenedi Hamrick’s fielding error allowed Booth Braswell to reach first base for the Mustangs but her stay on the bases wouldn’t last long as Haley Meza sent the next pitch over the fence for a two run lead.
A second fielding error by the defense allowed Sara Thompson to reach base on what should have been a routine out. Carly Johnson would make the Cavaliers pay for this mistake as well with an RBI scoring Thompson from second for a 3-0 lead.
“I be honest we were a little off defensively tonight which is very rare for us. Normally we don’t have any issues defensively,” commented Powell about the errors. “But they’re a great hitting team.”
The Cavaliers mounted a small rally in the bottom of the fourth as Leeann Briscoe’s deep fly caught the top of the fence and fell back into play for a double scoring Courtney Smith from second. Hamrick then picked up the first of her two hits driving in Briscoe home to close the gap to 3-2.
The Mustangs answered with a two-run fifth inning again helped by the defensive errors of the Cavaliers extending their lead to 5-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth.
The fifth inning has been kind to the Cavaliers most all season and this afternoon saw more of the same. Raven Gray, Savannah Davis (3-for-4 on the night) and Emily Dotson all reached base on consecutive bats bringing up Jenna Carter. Carter sent the ball deep over the centerfield wall clearing the bases and giving the Cavaliers their first lead of the game.
“Seems to be our inning when we finally come alive,” Powell said. “Yeah, that was her first (home run) of the year and what a time for it.”
The Mustangs muscled four hits in the top of the sixth including a RBI single by Sarah Thompson to tie the game.
A few minutes later another throwing error by the Cavaliers would allow Taylor Wilson to score from second retaking the lead 7-6 for the Mustangs.
The score remained 7-6 as the Cavaliers headed into the bottom of the seventh. J
Carter grounded out to start the inning before Courtney Smith hit a hard shot into center field to reach first base.
Klinnin Carson took two strikes before reaching base on a single to right field. The Mustangs Carly Johnson walked Briscoe to load the bases with one out.
Hamrick, whose early error had helped put the Mustang’s first run on the board, found redemption with her next at bat. Hamrick (2-for-4, 3 RBIs) sent one deep to left field that was misplayed by the Mustang outfielder scoring Courtney Smith and Carson to secure the victory.
“We had gone through the top of our line up but I knew we had great hitters left,” Powell said. “Kenedi, it couldn’t have happened to a better kid. She was due a big one.”
The Cavaliers will face the winner of Pisgah and West Lincoln on Friday.