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April 15, 2005

Blazers rally, but suffer first loss of season

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
APRIL 13, BLAZER FIELD-

When Blair was put in a situation that was foreign to them in 2005, having to make a comeback in the last inning, they responded, tying up a game they had trailed since the third batter of the game. But they were unable to get one final hit to win, and eventually lost in extra innings to Richard Montgomery, 6-3. It was Blair's first defeat of the season.

Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning with one batter already out, the Blazers (6-1) played with urgency and smarts at the same time. Emily O'Brien set the tone in the inning, drawing a walk following a tense eight-pitch plate appearance. A pitch then hit Shante Henderson, and Annie Denenberg singled to load the bases.

After Anna Szapiro grounded to the pitcher and Maggie Sullivan, pinch running for O'Brien was thrown out at the plate for the second out, Blair did not fold. Rather, Sara Pierce came through with one of the most clutch hits of the year for the Blazers, ripping a stinging double to left field that scored pinch runner Liz Scroggs and Denenberg to tie the game.

But with two runners on, Juliet Garlow struck out to end the inning. RM (4-2) then took advantage of a tiring Michelle Linford, who pitched all eight innings for Blair tonight, teeing off on her for three runs in the eighth, the difference in the final score. A passed ball by Blair catcher Claire Lieberman allowed the go-ahead run to score, and Heather Riley scored off a triple by Thompson that sealed the win for RM.

The Blazers went quietly in the bottom of the eighth, when Garlow was doubled up at second base after Lieberman's solidly hit ball was caught by the Rockets' center fielder.

Manager Louis Hoelman was encouraged by the Blair rally, even if it ultimately wasn't enough for the victory. "I'm proud of the team and how they came back, and they didn't give up at the end."

Blair was put in a hole from the ouster, when RM's Kayla Harrison hit a triple. She scored off a hit by the next batter, Riley. But after that, Blair pitcher Michelle Linford began to settle down, and as she and RM ace Candace Thompson got into a groove, the game breezed by.

The Blazers went down 1-2-3 in the first three innings, and Harrison had a perfect game through 3 2/3 innings, when Linford broke it up with a single. Thompson then proceeded to strike out the side in the fifth inning. Linford was also solid from the second through fifth innings, allowing just three hits and no runs over that span.

Coming into the game, the Blair coaching staff felt that the team who made the fewest defensive mistakes would emerge the winner. But Blair still lost despite committing only one error to RM's two. Said Hoelman, "I was proud of our defense tonight, but I also told them that we relied on our defense too much tonight because we couldn't get hits."

Thompson allowed only two singles and Pierce's double, and the right-hander struck out nine Blazers in eight innings. "She's one of the best pitchers in the county," Hoelman said, adding that Blair "hadn't seen a change-up like hers all year."

He also noted the absence of leadoff hitter Sarah Rumbaugh, who was kept out of the game with a sprained ankle. While she was an endless source of encouragement on the bench for the rest of the team, Hoelman said that the fact that she was on the bench instead of in the field hurt the team.

"She has a .500 on-base percentage, and she sets the table for us with her speed," Hoelman said. "Losing Sarah changed the lineup and, more than we know it hurt us. It really did hurt us." When she will return is not set in stone, but the team most certainly would like her in uniform for Friday's game at 7-0 Damascus.

Hoelman commented that the roller-coaster seventh and eighth inning took Blair through a wide range of emotions on their way to their first loss of '05. He said, "As high as we were in the seventh, we were just as low in the eighth. The team took the loss hard."



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  • --- on April 16, 2005 at 4:48 PM
    please make sure to check the facts and proofread next time.
    errors include:
    - "in extra innings" (there was only one)
    -Sara Pierce not Sarah
    - "but I also told them that we PUT RELIED? on our defense too much tonight"
    - "Sarah Rumbaugh, who was kept out of the game with a sprained knee." (It's a sprained ANKLE!!!)
    - you don't include Riley's first name until the second time you mention her
  • Michael Bushnell (View Email) on April 17, 2005 at 4:27 PM
    Thanks "---" for the heads-up. Sometimes in my haste to get these stories up I make a couple stupid errors. Thanks for reading SCO and for being a darn good editor.
  • sara on April 18, 2005 at 10:45 AM
    you're welcome
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