Readers will get a treat today. I’m leaving for Columbia in a few minutes for MU’s Homecoming festivities, so I’m posting the full story about the Harrisburg-Silex game that will run in tomorrow’s newspaper.
For those who will be attending Saturday’s quarterfinal game against Beiver, it begins at 1 p.m. and will be played at Tigerette Park in Macon (not Bevier). Click here if you need directions, but it’s literally right off Highway 63 as you drive through town.
Well, I’m off. Here’s the story, as promised. (The headline may sound corny, but avid Cardinals fans who watch a lot of their games should get it)
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Six is a serious number
Harrisburg storms past Silex 8-3, scoring six runs in the sixth inning
After a 23-hour pause following the start of Wednesday’s Class 1 sectional matchup between Harrisburg and Silex, it only took 30 minutes to determine a winner the following day.
Harrisburg allowed one run in the top of the sixth inning when play resumed Thursday, then scored six runs in the bottom half of the inning to win 8-3 and advance to today’s (Saturday) quarterfinal game, where the Lady Bulldogs will play Bevier at 1 p.m. in Macon.
“I had no doubt when we left the game Wednesday night that we were going to put the ball in play,” Harrisburg head coach Janeil Draffen said. “They came out ready.”
Had it not been for a little luck, it wouldn’t have been necessary for the two teams to reconvene Thursday to finish the game.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning and rain clouds rolling in from the east, Bobbi Mathews slapped a single over a drawn-in infield to continue the inning. The next batter, Alissa Lumb, tripled into right-center field to tie the score at 2-2. Less than five minutes later, play was suspended and the conclusion of the game was postponed until the following day.
“The upperclassmen really took care of it,” Draffen said of the day-long delay. “Our leaders stepped up and knew we had to keep the momentum going. They knew we had to put the ball in play and keep them out there on defense.”
Although she didn’t know it at the time, Lumb’s hit turned out to be a life-saver for Harrisburg.
Had Harrisburg not scored, it would have counted as an official game after five innings and Silex would have won. Down to its last life, Harrisburg extended its season to another day.
“I was nervous,” Lumb said. “I wanted to get someone home or at least make something happen. It turned out to be pretty big. I got a lot of compliments after that and I felt like a hero.”
When play resumed on Thursday, Madison Henke led off the sixth inning for Silex with a walk and pinch runner Brittany Howard stole second base. After a sacrifice bunt, Howard scored on a ground ball to give Silex a 3-2 lead. Harrisburg escaped further damage when catcher Kelsey Vineyard threw out Alyson Miller attempting to steal second base.
Entering the bottom half of the sixth inning, Harrisburg took advantage of back-to-back miscues to begin its rally. Kassi Blakemore started the inning by reaching on an error by the shortstop and advanced to second base. Vineyard, the next batter, nearly popped out on a bunt attempt, but despite making an outstanding diving attempt, Silex pitcher Natelie Fleming dropped the ball, putting runners at first and third base.
The Lady Bulldogs tied the score at 3-3 when the next batter, Kimmie Roberts, reached on a fielder’s choice. Blakemore beat the throw home and there were still no outs.
Pinch hitter Karissa James walked to load the bases and Caitlin Atkins and Tina Chickering hit back-to-back RBI singles. Another run scored on a fielding error and Harrisburg extended its lead to 6-3.
Chelsey Kroese singled to left-center field to score a run and Lumb also scored on another Silex error, the team’s fourth of the inning. After the marathon inning was over, Harrisburg’s first nine batters of the inning reached base safely and the Lady Bulldogs held a five-run lead with one inning to go.
Roberts closed out the game with a 1-2-3 inning in the seventh for the complete-game win. Pitching seven innings seemed like a stretch after a scary moment in the first inning Wednesday.
Silex’s No. 3 hitter, Fleming, hit a line drive off Robert’ left ankle and the ball skidded into left-center field. After walking around for a minute and taking a few warm-up pitches, Roberts was back on the mound again and ready to go.
In the Sturgeon game at districts, she also took a line drive off her left hip and returned to the game as well. Opponents can hit balls at Roberts all they want, but it won’t rattle her.
“This one hurt a lot worse, actually,” Roberts said. “It just lingered around. Last time, I was so pumped up that I didn’t feel the pain. This one came at the beginning of the game, so it didn’t go away as quickly.”
This time, however, Silex continued to swing the bats hard against Roberts. Lindsey Barnhart hit an RBI double off the left-field fence and Madison Henke followed that with an RBI single just over Mathews’ glove at shortstop, giving Silex a 2-0 after half an inning of play.
Harrisburg had its first two-out rally of the night in the third inning. Atkins hit a leadoff single up the middle to start the inning, but the next two batters struck out against Fleming. Lumb didn’t leave Atkins stranded on first base, lining a triple to right-center field — to the exact same spot as her triple in the fifth inning — to cut the Silex lead to 2-1.
“She was determined,” Draffen said. “She had two strikes on her and just kept battling back and ended up getting that triple.”
Lumb had two of Harrisburg’s eight hits, finishing with two triples and two RBIs. Atkins had two singles and one RBI, Kroese and Chickering each had one single and one RBI and Mathews and Blakemore finished the game with one single apiece.
In seven innings, Roberts allowed three runs one six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.