In a twist of fate, it was a reversal of fortune for both squads from their first meeting as Union Local head coach Roger Herbert's Jets would strike first against visiting Bellaire and would not squander the opportunity as they notched a 5-2 Buckeye 8 victory Monday afternoon in Morristown.
Herbert stated that was the first time under his tenure that his squad had been able to accomplish that feat against the Big Reds.
"They have scored first in all three of the games prior since I have been here," said UL's skipper. "I told the girls we needed to get up early on them this time, we did that and I think it gave us some confidence tonight."
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
BELLAIRE CATCHER Casey Garloch awaits the throw as Union Local’s Amanda Swallie slides safely into home with a run for the Lady Jets during Monday’s game in Morristown. Union Local prevailed, 5-2. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
In reality, the Jets would have to hold the potent Big Reds offense in check for three innings before getting on the scoreboard. Retiring Bellaire in order to begin the third inning and Maddie Schafer got the inning started with a one-out single for the Jets. Olivia Minamyer singled to left to push Schafer into scoring position but Bellaire center fielder Sara Marlin stole a pair of RBIs off of Caitlyn Sliva when she snagged a deep fly ball to center.
Schafer tagged and advanced to third on the fly ball leaving runners at the corners for Amanda Swallie.
The Jets' number three hitter punched a 'routine' pop fly into shallow center but this time the yellow sphere would not cooperate and avoided the squeeze popping and dropping to the grass.
The error allowed two Jets to score but Herbert was still hungry, sending Swallie who successfully swiped second setting the table for Alex Brahler. The Jets' clean-up hitter would drop a single into right field scoring Swallie and giving Union Local a 3-0 advantage.
Bellaire got the ground ball they were looking for on the next at bat to end the inning and strand Brahler who had stolen third base but the damage had been done.
"I am speechless," said Bellaire head coach Melissa Lahna of the inning. "Megan (Ging) pitched a nice game for us and Sarah (Marlin) made great plays for us in center and because of that error, she will probably have nightmares about that one fly ball.
"I am at a loss to explain it," added a frustrated Lahna. "Is it the talent, is it the want?"
Bellaire recovered to retire the side in order and would have an opportunity to get back some runs in the top of the fourth but would leave the bases loaded adding to the frustration.
The Big Reds' defense once again set the Jets down in order and for the first time in the contest would get the leadoff batter aboard as Talia Duffy singled. Katie Fry would take the first pitch into the gap to plate Duffy and advance to third base on a passed ball.
Taylar Canter pushed her across the dish with a sacrifice before Jets pitcher Minamyer settled back in to strike out the next batter and get the Big Reds number four hitter to retire on a infield pop up.
"Contact is not enough," Lahna cautioned. "We lack any sort of patience at the plate and that more often than not results in pop ups."
The Big Reds problems continued in the sixth inning as Swallie singled to start off the frame for Union Local and reached second on an error which allowed Brahler to reach on the fielders choice. Once again the Jets rallied to make their opponents pay for their mistake as Barb Keiser notched an RBI single plating Swallie and Ashten Butler bunted Brahler home for a pair of insurance runs.
With just three outs remaining, Minamyer struck out the first Big Red batter looking and got the second to ground out to first base.
Bellaire would strand a pair as the game ended on an infield pop up to shortstop.
"I thought our defense really cleaned up for us tonight," said UL's Herbert. "We dropped three fly balls against them last time and gave them some runs, We have been hitting the ball pretty well so we stressed defense for this game and I think it was a big win for our girls."
On the mound, Ging fanned half-a-dozen while Minamyer struck out three. There were no walks in the contest.
Union Local begins a tough week hosting Edison today while Bellaire travels to East Liverpool.
Bellaire 310 001 x - 2 7 2
Union Local 000 020 0 - 5 6 0
Batteries: Minamyer and Keiser. Ging and Garloch.