NORTH RIDGEVILLE — In an extra-inning classic, North Ridgeville nipped Avon 3-2 on Tuesday to maintain sole possession of first place in the West Shore Conference.
It was a memorable pitchers duel that saw both teams come from behind before Ridgeville pushed the winning run across in the 10th inning. It was the second time in four days the Rangers upended the Eagles in a battle of WSC contenders.
Here’s how they did it: Rangers shortstop Marissa Caraballo doubled down the left-field line to open the Ridgeville 10th. Kendra Moore’s grounder to the right side moved Caraballo to third and Caraballo ran home with the winner when catcher Jenna Yost hit a 1-2 fastball into center field.
“It seemed like it was a ball that was right down the middle,” Caraballo said of her game-changer. “I turned on it quick and it fell in for me right down the third-base line. Then when Jenna (Yost) came up, I was pretty confident of the position we were in.”
Yost said her walk-off RBI came on a pitch she couldn’t resist.
“She left it out over the plate,” she said, “so down the middle, up the middle. She was throwing really hard so I got my hands up and through the zone and hit it up the middle.”
The Rangers (15-5, 11-0 WSC) hold a two-game lead over the Eagles (14-6, 9-2) with three conference games to play.
They are home for all three against Bay, Vermilion and Midview, which has just one league loss. Ridgeville defeated all three the first time through the WSC schedule.
Rangers pitcher Kailey Demarco struck out 14 and allowed five hits. Remarkably, the first three Avon batters gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead that looked as though it would hold up.
But Demarco retired the next 18 batters before Avon tied the game at 2 with a run in the seventh. She then retired 12 of the next 13 Eagles, which set the table for the Caraballo-Yost heroics in the Ridgeville 10th.
Asked if she was aware of what she had done, Demarco said, “No.”
Likewise, Avon pitcher Rachael Poling was sharp. She allowed just two singles before Ridgeville tied the score at 1 in the fifth.
Then the Rangers’ Nicole Andrews hit a one-out single and eventually scored on Caraballo’s single to center. An inning later, Demarco cranked a solo home run into the woods behind the left-field fence, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead. It was her fourth of the season, all since April 27.
“It was pretty much a fastball right down the middle,” Demarco said.
Avon freshman Alexis Dill, who was hit by a pitch leading off the game, put Avon up 1-0 when she scored on Anna Edwards’ double to the fence in left field.
The Eagles tied it after another freshman, Kaylee Morton, led off the seventh with a double. She scored when Ally Sumser followed with a single and the Ridgeville outfield couldn’t control the ball.
“I just told them I was very, very proud of them in the seventh inning, coming back against a really good team and good pitcher,” Avon coach Ken Matuszak said. “They scored a run and had the opportunity to knock somebody else in and take the lead. They stepped in against a team like North Ridgeville that’s going to be really tough.”
Rangers coach Norm Frindt said his team has been taking advantage of timely hits.
“We’ve actually done an excellent job of that most of the time,” he said. “At the beginning of the year we were struggling with it a little bit. But after about the first five or six games, we’ve been a lot better. We’ve been able to get hits when we really needed them. We’re getting people to come through. They know their focus has to be good.”
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.