Mercyhurst North East 5
Orange County CC 4 (8 innings)
It didn't look good early for the Saints in the Regional Championship game Sunday morning. However, the Saints responded with some late game heroics to capture the Region Championship in front of a chilly crowd at home.
With the score tied 0-0 in the third inning, Orange took the lead on a throwing error with a runner on third. Then a wild pitch allowed another runner to score as the Saints fell behind. In the fourth, Orange scored again with the aid of another error and suddenly the Saints were down 3-0.
Head Coach Brian Dewey says some early season growing pains helped the Saints respond when they needed it the most. "The girls were frustrated, making errors and letting those bad plays carry over to the next one"; said Dewey. "We had this happen to us a lot early in the season in Florida and we just let games get away from us. Today was different, we finally learned to not let it spin out of control and just stay focused on the next pitch. We were more mature today late in the game."
Lei Guthrie, the Saints only sophomore, had a little chat coming off the field with Dewey in the fourth and changed her outlook going forward. She hit a two out double and would later score to give the Saints life.
In the fifth, Wilmari Guzman and Tori Harding both had hits to give the Saints second and third with one out. Rachel Shaheen then roped a single to right to score both runners and knot the game at 3-3.
In the top of the seventh, the Colts got clutch hitting of their own, taking a 4-3 lead on two singles mixed around a fielder's choice.
In the bottom half, Anna Swartout singled to start the inning. After a fly ball and a fielder's choice put the Saints last hope on first base, Harding then stole second to set the stage for Shaheen, who once again delivered another clutch single to chase home Harding and send the game into extra innings.
After holding the Colts scoreless in the eighth, Riplee Burkhart singled to start the inning and advanced on a wild pitch. After an intentional walk to Guthrie, Justine Dean laid down a sacrifice bunt. The ball was mishandled by the defense, allowing all runner to be safe. On the play, Guthrie rounded second and a throw was made to put her out but got away and into center, allowing Burkhart to score the walk off winning run.
Guthrie was the winning pitcher, going all eight innings, striking out nine and scattering seven hits while walking nobody.
Shaheen, Guzman, and Dean all had two hits each for the Saints.
With the win, the Saints improve their record to 29-15 and will now advance to the District Championships next weekend. The Saints will host this event at Vineyard Field on May 5th and 6th.