Union/Cove catcher Kelsey Walenta chases down Colton baserunner Pam Irving Friday in the top of the sixth inning in the morning game of the Spring Bash. Brad Mosher/The Observer
by Brad Mosher/The Observer
UNION — A wild pitch gave Union /Cove the break it needed to edge Heppner 9-8 Friday in the final game of the Spring Bash.
The defending state champions had rallied to tie the game at 8-all on a home run by Micha Hintz in the top of the seventh inning at the Union Sports Complex.
However, Mustang pitching ace Baily Bennett couldn’t stop the Lady Cats in the bottom of the inning. Kelsey Walenta popped out to the catcher for the first out.
But Jaden Wright slapped a single up the middle, putting the winning run on.
Carsyn Roberts followed with a grounder that both Heppner’s third baseman and shortstop couldn’t handle, moving Wright to second.
The freshman moved to third on a wild pitch.
After Keesha Sarman struck out, Dani Sturm never got a chance for a game-winning hit. A second wild pitch from Bennett gave Wright the chance to slide in for the win. But she was the first to celebrate the come-from-behind win.
According to Union/Cove coach Paul Phillips, the Lady Cats were lucky to pull out the win. “It was just two great teams trading punches. Thankfully, we got the last punch.”
The Lady Cats scored first in the bottom of the third inning when Roberts hit a fly into short centerfield that dropped in between three Mustang players. That allowed Walenta to score and give Union/Cove a 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Amber Fiorito hit a shot that nearly cleared Union/Cove’s chain-link version of the “Green Monster” in deep center, but she had to settle for a single. Kindra Moore hit a grounder to third that was bobbled, allowing both Fiorito to move to second and Moore to be safe at first.
Viki McCabe hit a two-out shot to centerfield that was dropped, allowing both Fiorito and Moore to score.
That built a 3-0 lead that didn’t last long.
In the top of the fifth inning, the Mustangs got two quick hits off Sturm, but she got the next two batters to strike out. After a wild pitch moved Heppner’s Nicole Kempken to third, all it took was a single by Hintz to score Kempken and cut Union/Cove lead to 3-1.
The Lady Cats started the bottom of the fifth inning with a drive caught by the Heppner shortstop.
Roberts singled and Sarman doubled, setting up Sturm for a sacrifice fly to center that scored Roberts.
Ahead 4-1, Sarman was left on base when Fiorito was thrown out at first — barely. A wide throw pulled the first baseman off the base, but she was able to catch the ball and step back on the bag just before Fiorito made it to first.
In the top of the sixth inning, Heppner started a rally with three straight hits. Makenzie Correa singled, then Bennett followed with a double.
Maggie Collins’ single scored Correa and put runners at first and third. A wild pitch allowed Bennett to score from third, cutting the lead to 4-3 with no outs.
With the tying run on base, Sturm was able to get a pop-fly and two ground outs to cut the Heppner threat short.
After the game-winning celebration finished, Phillips said, “Bailey Bennett ain’t the 2A player of the year for nothing — and Dani gave it everything she had.”
According to Sturm, Bennett wasn’t overpowering on the mound. “We were pretty comfortable against her,” she said after the game.
It was Heppner that knocked the Lady Cats out of the state playoffs a year ago.
But on Friday, it was the Lady Cats who handed Heppner its second loss of the day. Heppner started the Spring Bash with a 3-0 record, then handed Colton a 9-2 loss Thursday. That changed on Friday when the Lady Viks from the 3A-West Valley League handed Heppner a 6-3 loss.
Union/Cove walks to win
UNION — The Lady Cats needed to come from behind in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday to hand Colton a 9-8 loss in the first game of a Spring Bash doubleheader.
The winning run came on a bases-loaded walk to Dani Sturm.
Union/Cove were trailing by an 8-5 margin in the bottom of the sixth inning when its bats came alive.
Sarman got a hit, making it safely to first and then scrambled to second when the throw to first went wide. The throwing error also scored Wright, cutting the Lady Vik lead to two runs.
A throwing error to third on Sarman’s attempt to steal allowed her to score.
Amber Fiorito doubled, then scored on another Colton overthrow to first, tying the score at 8-all. Kaci Langford’s infield grounder started the game-tying play.
Sturm took over pitching duties in the top of the seventh, striking out two and getting one batter to fly out to centerfield.
Both coaches met with their teams before the start of play, with Colton coach Jim Brochis telling his players to “hold them right here.”
When Union/Cove’s Kindra Moore struck out leading off the inning, it looked like the Lady Viks might do that.
But the Lady Cats were able to load the bases before Sturm drew a game-winning walk for Union/Cove.