AVON — For five innings Thursday, Avon’s Rachel Poling and Midview’s Lexie Hamker were locked in a classic pitchers duel.
Then the Eagles’ offense took flight.
Avon scored all its run in the sixth inning in rolling to a 5-1 West Shore Conference win.
Midview’s loss, coupled with North Ridgeville’s 11-4 win over Vermilion, ended the Middies’ hopes of defending their league title. The Rangers, undefeated in 13 league games, hold a
two-game lead with one to go over the Middies and the Eagles.
After being held to four baserunners over the first five innings, the Eagles (16-6, 11-2) sent 10 hitters to the plate in the sixth. Alexis Dill got the inning started with a single to shallow center field, and Gabbie Maenza followed with a pinch-hit sacrifice bunt that turned into a two-base error, leaving a pair of runners in scoring position.
“Gabbie is a really good bunter, that’s her main role on the team, so we brought her off the bench in that situation,” Avon coach Ken Matuszak said. “We got a bonus with the error, but Gabbie did just what we needed her to do.”
According to Matuszak, it was the Eagles’ first win against Midview (15-8, 9-2) in their last nine meetings.
Later in the inning, Ally Sumser drove in a run with a bases-loaded single, bringing freshman Olivia Kula to the plate for the biggest at-bat of her high school career. Kula responded with a two-run double.
Another Midview throwing error led to another run.
“I told myself to stay positive and have good thoughts before I stepped in the box,” Kula said. “And I just made good contact and hit it where they weren’t.”
Midview scored its run in the fourth inning. Cassie Haight led off the inning with a single and scored on a Carlee Grunda sacrifice fly.
The way Hamker was working her way through the Avon lineup, it looked like that might be all the offense the Middies would need. Hamker retired nine hitters in a row at one point and only needed three pitches to retire the Eagles in the third inning.
“I feel bad for Lexie because she deserved a better fate today,” Midview coach Mike Ives said. “We just didn’t execute a couple times, made two errors in that one inning and failed to put down bunts when we got runners on base.”
Midview also hurt itself when it had a run wiped off the board. The Middies appeared to take a 2-0 lead on a sacrifice fly, but Avon appealed, saying the runner left the base early, and the umpires agreed.
Poling held the powerful Midview lineup to three hits, all singles, and had just three walks.
“My defense came through for me today and helped take the pressure off of me in the circle,” Poling said. “Midview is a very good hitting team and I had to work hard to hit my spots and keep the ball out of the center of the plate.”
To finish a grueling run through the WSC, the Eagles have one more league game to play Saturday when they travel to Midview for a rematch.
“I was talking with our trainer today about how after more than 20 games I can’t say we’re a young team anymore,” Matuszak said. “We faced a lot of tough teams and have been in a lot of tough situations. We’ve won some games but we’ve also lost some games and that’s where you build character. It was very important that the girls came out and responded the way they did today.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Avon 5, Midview 1
ab r h bi ab r h bi
Grunda 2 0 0 1 Dill 3 0 1 0
M. Hamker 3 0 0 0 Luca 2 1 1 0
Thomas 3 0 0 0 Maenza 0 0 0 0
Beursken 3 0 1 0 Edwards 2 1 1 0
L. Hamker 1 0 0 0 Morton 3 1 0 0
Koleski 1 0 0 0 Sumser 3 1 1 1
Haight 3 1 1 0 Beltz 3 0 1 0
Wade 3 0 0 0 Kula 3 1 1 2
Lantsberry 3 0 1 0 Poling 2 0 1 1
Wysocki 3 0 1 0
Totals 22 1 3 1 Totals 24 5 8 4
Midview 000 100 0 — 1 3 2
Avon 000 005 X — 5 8 2
2B—Beltz, Kula. SB—M. Hamker. SAC—Grunda, Koleski, Maenza, Poling, LOB—Midview 6, Avon 5.
IP R ER H BB SO
L. Hamker (L, 15-8) 6 5 1 8 2 0
Poling (W, 7-5) 7 1 1 3 3 4