Blazers pull past Poolesville 7-6
MAY 10, POOLESVILLE—
"When we get behind in the score the whole team falls down. We need someone to come pick us up," said senior co-captain Sarah Rumbaugh after tonight's game against the Poolesville Falcons. With Blair down 6-3 in the fourth inning, that someone became apparent, as senior co-captain Sara Pierce hit a double to make it 6-4, a triple in the sixth to make it 6-6 and a sacrifice fly in the top of the seventh to drive in the winning run and make the score 7-6.
Head Coach Louis Hoelman thought that tonight's game "was a great tune-up before the playoffs." The Poolesville team was one of the best that Blair has faced all year. The Falcons had an identical 14-1 record, adding an extra dimension to the game. The team wasn't only playing for just one win; they "were playing for the best record in the county," said Hoelman. At the end of the day it was Blair who prevailed 7-6, improving their season record to 15-1 while simultaneously boosting the team's confidence going into the playoffs next week.
"We did a lot of great things in that game," said Hoelman. The team was forced to come from behind, a position the team has not often been in this year. Offensively, Blair had to adjust to the wide strike zone being called by the umpire and to the hard Poolesville infield conditions. Junior pitcher and shortstop Michelle Linford also learned that she will be called on to carry the team on her shoulders alone.
After scoring three runs in the top of the first inning, Blair's luck took a dramatic turn for the worse. "We were able to hit, but we just weren't getting the breaks," explained Hoelman. Defensively the Blazers fell apart. Every infielder except for junior Juliet Garlow had an error during the game. "It seemed like our best defenders were all making mistakes," said Hoelman.
These errors added more than just simple frustration to the contest. "It let Poolesville back into the game," said Hoelman. The errors helped to extend innings that should have been over as catches were botched, balls were under-thrown and routine plays were simply not completed correctly.
It was when Blair was at its lowest point, that Linford brought her game to a new level. "She was really hitting her spots," said Hoelman. Linford had nine strike-outs in the game, a number which Hoelman said was her season high. As the game progressed she only became more dominant.
In the beginning of the game Linford admitted to being distracted by the upcoming playoffs. "I was thinking too far ahead, but once we fell behind my head was in the game." As Linford's frustration at Poolesville's increasing lead built up, she only pitched harder and more accurately, leaving several Poolesville batters looking at called third strikes in the later innings.
Other players also stepped up today at the plate. "We have a lot of depth on our team and today a lot of people got really clutch hits," said Rumbaugh. Although Rumbaugh and junior Allison Rubin, who bat first and second respectively, were not able to get on base as often as usual, the middle of line-up played some of their best ball this year. Junior Anna Szapiro was 3-4 with two runs scored and two runs-batted in, and both juniors Claire Lieberman and Annie Dennenberg were 2-4.
Still it was Pierce who provided the spark for the Blair offense. Her double and triple were essential to switching the momentum back to Blair's side. Twice in the game she took daring slides into home plate, showing that she was ready to make a sacrifice for her team and her school.
With this win behind them, Blair has moved on to preparing for their first playoff game next Monday at 7:00 p.m. Their opponent will be either Magruder or Northwest. Hoelman expects for the team to play Magruder, the better team of the two. When discussing Magruder, Hoelman explained, "They are a solid .500 team, but they started out slowly and have really picked it up recently."
Hoelman wants to see increased production from Rumbaugh and Rubin on Monday's game. Linford on the other hand thinks that the entire team needs to play their best in order for the team to advance to State's. "Everyone can't be 4-4. The pitcher can't strike out everyone, so if we want to win, everyone needs to step it up."
At the end of the day, Blair was able to go home with more than the best record in Montgomery County. They left knowing that they could battle back from behind, that they could get the clutch hits when they were needed and that they could hold a lead when it mattered most. "It was the perfect game for us to play," said Hoelman.
Blair's next game is at home next Monday at 7:00 p.m. against the winner of the Magruder/Northwest game.
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