Titans down Pioneers in seventh-inning comeback

Hill-Murray’s Jessica Bonfe (17) slides in safely at second as Tartan shortstop Kristina Lodahl (18) gets the throw backed up by Krista Sandberg (11). The Titans won 8-7 at Hill-Murray April 13. (Linda Baumeister/Review)
Hill-Murray’s Jessica Bonfe (17) slides in safely at second as Tartan shortstop Kristina Lodahl (18) gets the throw backed up by Krista Sandberg (11). The Titans won 8-7 at Hill-Murray April 13. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

The Tartan Titans motored over to Hill-Murray Monday, April 13 for a Metro East softball clash that pretty well established the Titans as the 2015 "Comeback Crew."

Trailing 7-5 heading into the seventh inning, the Titans lived up to the nickname when they scored three runs to give them their third win in as many games.

The victory put a big smile on the face of Tartan coach Brian Larson, who said this team is much improved over last year.

"Experience has made a lot of difference for us. We have some young players and some with experience. Our young players are moving right in there.

"We made some mistakes that cost us early, but the kids don't get down like they did in the past. They came back. They play hard and go on from there.

 "I'm very proud of them. They're gaining some confidence and as I said earlier in the year, there are going to be some teams watching us. This was another good win for us."

Hill-Murray coach Colleen Conway was somewhat philosophical in her post-game interview. "It is what it is. You have to play to the end. They played to the end, and we made some costly errors at the end."

"It slipped away from us. This is kind of what has happened to us the last couple of games. We have been in every single ball game. We have to communicate a little better. We'll get back to the drawing board and go on from here."

Hill-Murray put the first run on the board when leadoff hitter Kennedy Houge belted the ball 221 feet — into a brisk wind — over the center field fence.

Play moved into the third inning when Hill-Murray made some costly errors. Titans Carlee Palmer and Kristina Lodahl walked, and Tara Bighley singled.

Designated hitter Alyssa Schmidt then sent a sacrifice fly into right field and Palmer raced home. A fly ball dropped into the outfield, allowing both Lodahl and pinch runner Carly Bihner to score, and Tartan led 3-1.

In the bottom of the third Hill-Murray sent 10 batters to the plate and six of them scored.

Houge led off with a double, and Anna Newton put a successful bunt on the ground. The pair moved up on a passed ball in front of a sacrifice fly to center by Katie Johnson. Jessica Bonfe cracked a single to left to load the bases.

Sophia Peterson knocked a slow roller to the right side and gained a single that scored Newton. Stephanie Eberhard went in as a courtesy runner.

Ellie Wolfe banged a single to right to score Bonfe. Sammie Rambo cracked a double and Eberhard crossed the plate. That sent relief pitcher Danica Richert to the mound for Tartan.

Sami Thompson greeted Richert with a sacrifice bunt that scored the sixth run of the inning.

The Pioneers were leading 7-3 in the top of the fifth when Tartan's Schmidt walked. Krista Sandberg smacked a single to right, advancing Schmidt to third. Sandberg then stole second, and Jordan Sabelko worked a walk in front of a two-RBI single up the middle by Gina Vannelli to push the count to 7-5.

In the top of the seventh Tartan put the winning runs on the board.

King led off with a walk, and Sandberg was safe on an infield error. The pair then moved up on stolen bases. A second error in the outfield allowed King to score, while Vannelli scampered to second. A third throwing error went out of play, and the score was suddenly knotted at 7-7.

Allie Hazzard then whacked a single down the left field line that drove in Vannelli for the 8-7 Tartan win.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7820.
 

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