Pearl ran their way into a sixth-inning triple play as St. Martin won the opening game of their first-round playoff series 9-3 Friday.
The Jackets need one win Saturday at Noon Saturday at Pearl (8-16) to reach the second round. If needed, a decisive third game will follow.
St. Martin (14-13) took advantage of Pearl pitching wildness early in the game building a 6-1 lead behind five walks, a hitsbatsman, and five wild pitches. However, in the fifth inning, the Pirates started mounting a comeback, scoring two runs.
“We are going to have to do what we did tonight and continue to hit the ball,” said St. Martin coach Donna Swilley. “We are going to have to play good defense.”
Although the Yellow Jackets would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth on a pinch-hitter Meagan Beaugez’ single up the middle, the Pirates continued their comeback in the top of the sixth. Danyelle Langston beat out a single to short, Lacey Knight following with a solid single to right, and Grace Greenhill placed a perfect bunt in front of the plate to load the bases with no outs.
Madison Price followed with a flair off the end of the bat down the thirdbase line. St. Martin’s Kamryn Carcich couldn’t reach the ball in the air, but got it on the first bounce. She threw Langston out at home on the fielder’s choice. Yellow Jackets catcher Briana Zapata threw the ball back to pitcher Raven Beebe, who was outside the pitcher’s circle.
Before Beebe could get back to the circle and freeze the runners, Knight started down the line for home. Beebe quickly got the ball back to Zapata for the second out of the triple play. Greenhill saw Knight head from third to home, and took off for third base. Zapata, however, threw a strike to shortstop Katelyn Carcich covering third for the third out.
“It was a huge momentum swing,” Swilley said. “Momentum was starting to flow to them before the triple play. When the triple play happened, it took away all their momentum. The secret to the triple play was Yellow Jacket players keeping their head on a swivel. Then they had to make the right play and the right throw.”
St. Martin scored twice in the bottom of the sixth. Kamryn Carcich reached on a triple. Zapata followed with a swinging bunt single that didn’t reach the pitching circle. Carcich and Zapata executed a double steal to produce the first run in the inning. Two pitches later, Zapata got caught between second and third. When the catcher’s throw went to second, Zapata took off for third. No one was covering second for the Pirates and Zapata rounded third and went home for the final run of the game.
In the seventh, Beebe retired the side in order. She finished with nine strikeouts.
“I think she struggled a little bit early,” said Swilley. “However, after the second inning, she found her stride. When she pitches, we know the ball is going to be in play so the defense has to be ready.”
Both teams used misplays in the outfield to score their first runs. Cailee Arender started the game with a double into center. However, a misplay allowed her to advance to third and score on Jess Paterson’s infield out.
Kamryn Carcich started the St. Martin side with a triple when the leftfielder misplayed what should have been a single, allowing the ball to roll back to the fence. She tied the game on a wild pitch.
In the third, Cassie Toncrey had an RBI single and scored on a wild pitch, pushing St. Martin’s lead to 4-1 after three.
In the fourth, three consecutive walks loaded the bases for St. Martin with no outs. Grey was hit by a pitch to drive in the first run of the inning. Zapata’s long drive to left put the Yellow Jackets up 6-1.
Kamryn Carcich paced the St. Martin offense with a pair of triples. Zapata drove in two runs.
Arender had two hits, a double, and an RBI to lead Pearl. Patterson drove in two runs, both on infield outs. Knight also had a pair of hits for Pearl.