EATON TWP. — Midview scored three unearned runs with two outs in the seventh inning to squeeze past Avon on Wednesday afternoon in a memorable West Shore Conference showdown.
With a 3-2 victory, the Middies (17-3, 12-0 WSC) clinched at least a share of the conference title, their seventh in coach Mike Ives’ nine seasons. They lead Avon by two games with two to play.
The Eagles (18-4, 11-2) had a chance to tie Midview for first place and were in command from the beginning. They took a 2-0 lead on sophomore Kaylee Morton’s two-run single to center in the first inning that sent second baseman Alex Kozich and pitcher Anna Edwards running home.
Edwards, a junior, then took control in the circle. She faced just two batters over the minimum 18 through six innings, striking out six, walking only one and scattering three hits along the way. She received timely help from senior catcher Emily Rogers, who nailed two Middies attempting to steal.
Edwards, in fact, finished with a six-strikeout three-hitter. Midview, with the help of three Avon errors and an “unintentional” intentional walk, won without a base hit in the seventh.
“The girl from Avon pitched a heck of a game,” Ives said. “She did a nice job of keeping us off balance, and I told the girls we just have to keep battling and keep our heads in it. You know, this isn’t the first game we’ve won in the bottom of the seventh. So our girls believe right till the last out that we can come back and win.
“Hat’s off to us for not quitting. Lauren Landers pitched a great game for us to give up those two runs in the first, then go the next six innings and not give any more. Defensively, we kept ourselves in the game until the offense could catch up. Sometimes this game just happens that way.”
The Middies, trailing 2-0, finally scored with one out in their final shot. Catcher Cassie Haight, who reached on a fielder’s choice, came home when left fielder Trish Koleski ran all the way to second base on an Avon error.
Middies shortstop and slugger Amanda Beursken, who walked, was on third and Koleski was on second after the Eagles’ error with two outs and third baseman Carlee Grunda coming to the plate.
Grunda sent a fly ball into left-center field. Left fielder Cyd Clark ran for it, got a glove on it but couldn’t hang on. Beursken and Koleski, who were off and running on contact, scored easily for the win.
“I was just thinking I gotta do it for the team,” Grunda said. “Just go with the pitch and put it in play. They were telling me to keep my head and focus in. And when they dropped the ball, I was just thinking ‘I really did it to help the team.’”
Beursken’s seventh-inning walk was her 22nd of the season in 53 plate appearances. The tall senior has a head-turning eight home runs and 28 RBIs in 32 official at-bats.
“When (Grunda) hit it, I’m thinking go and turn and see if the ball dropped,” Beursken said. I was just standing there on third hoping she would get a hit and battle through her at-bat. I was telling her to have confidence, because all she needs is confidence at the plate.”
Then, reflecting on the fact that Midview let the WSC title slip away last spring, Beursken said: “We’re glad to get the conference back, because we lost it last year. It feels good to be seniors and walk out with the conference.”
As Ives noted, Middies freshman Landers also pitched well. She retired 18 of the 22 batters she faced after the first inning and, from the second inning on, allowed just three hits. She improved to 17-3 for the season.
Eagles coach Ken Matuszak was philosophical about the turn of events.
“I’m just proud that we competed,” said Matuszak, whose team lost to the Middies earlier in the season, too. “Anna (Edwards) throws hard and she had some good movement today. She pitched great. She threw a no-hitter Monday against Vermilion and came back strong. I told the kids, ‘Win as a team, lose as a team.’ I couldn’t be prouder.”
Alexis Dill had two hits for Avon and Morgan Hamker had two for Midview.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.