Article By: Aaron Rivera
A holiday two-game series saw the first and second place teams play, as well as the third and fourth place teams play. The underdogs would have the week walking into a three-day weekend.
The Field (5-11) vs E1 Pro Ballers (6-10)
Winning Pitchers: Arianna Young (3-3), Sarah Gilbert (2-4)
Two teams entered Independence Day on big skids, E1 carried a four-game losing streak while The Field carried a five-game losing streak which was started by E1. The Field would end theirs at 5 while the E1 Pro Ballers would extend theirs to 6.
With one or two private firework shows blowing in the distance and a heat index of up to 105°, E1 and The Field squared off in an early 4th of July duel. The Field showed their determination to win right out of the gate: Hannah Ivester went for the second pitch she saw and took it for a double. The Field advanced Ivester and she would reach home on a fielding error. E1 immediately responded with a first pitch homer from Caitlyn Whiteside to even the score at 1, but The Field did not let off the gas. In the home-half of the 2nd they got a solo shot of their own from Mackenzie Chitwood (2 for 2 with a walk), and in the following inning she would repeat her feat, but with Rhiannon Sassman and Molly Sturdivant on base to widen the gap to 6-1. An armistice was reached for a few innings, as both teams could not find home plate. With the end looming, the E1 Pro Ballers attempted to stage a two-out rally in the top of the seventh. With Savannah Sturgill on second and Jordan Gentry on third, Reilly Metzger picked a pitch and took it to center, scoring the two runners. With the rally in swing, Arianna Young (3-3) would force a pop-fly on the next batter and end the game to bring The Field two games back from their victims, the E1 Pro Ballers. Young would pick up another complete game, giving her the second most on the season with 4. End score: 6-3.
Similar names would shine on the 5th for The Field, as Sarah Gilbert (2-4) got the start and Anna Biondo (0-3) got the nod for E1. For the first 3 innings the game seemed to be a stalemate as each team struggled to get on base. In the top of the 4th E1 finally broke through as Makayla Reed hit a grounder with bases load that scored Alyson Shaw who singled to start the inning. Just as soon as E1 had a lead though, the Field’s bats awoke: the 4th would be deciding as Mackenzie Chitwood blasted a ball over the fence in Right that scored 3 (7th HR, 14 RBIs). That hit came with two outs, but The Field would not stop there as Kaylee Fox, Caitlin Perry, and Leah Mele would all hit singles, Mele’s driving Fox home from second. In the following inning Biondo (4IP, 4ERs, 3Ks) was replaced by Caitlyn Whiteside, but the result was similar. Hannah Ivester started off the inning with a single like she did in the 4th and scored again on a Rhiannon Sassman sac fly. Staring down a 6-1 deficit the E1 Pro Ballers never gave up. Libby Sugg would hit a solo homer in the sixth (her 7th of the year,) and with two outs in the 7th Savannah Sturgill started a late rally with a single to right. Alyson Shaw got an RBI single to go with her earlier run and sit Reilly Metzger at third. The pitching won out however, when Sarah Gilbert got her 7th strikeout, ending the game. The Field got their first two-game win-streak of the season, and inch closer to the rest of the league. End score: 6-3.
Moh-Beel! USA (12-4) vs Performance Lab (9-7)
Winning Pitcher: A. Lipovsky 2 (5-1)
Performance Lab and Moh-Beel! USA were meeting for the 7th and 8th times before the 3-day holiday weekend.
Game one would feature two of the League’s lowest ERAs in Allison Lipovsky (5-1) and Paige Crawford (4-2), but both teams would find a way to get on the score board. Lipovsky started the afternoon fanning five of six batters, working through the most dangerous part of the Moh-Beel! USA line-up very quickly while Crawford would come out unscathed in the first two as the defense held up. This would not be the case for long: in the top of the third Performance Lab seemed to be destined for another scoreless inning, as they sat with two outs, and a runner at first because from a throwing error. That runner was the very fast Shanysse Emerenciana, and she would exhibit her speed by scoring from first when Jaime Johnson doubled into the left-center gap. Not to be left out, the team’s RBI leader, Amanda Jones, struck an RBI double of her own, bringing Johnson in. Courtney Reeves stepped into the box in the heart of a rally and slammed the ball over the centerfield fence for her 3rd homerun of the season. On the other side Moh-Beel! USA took time to warm up their bats but found a rhythm late. In the bottom of the 6th, Savannah Horvath tore a ball to the centerfield fence for a double. With her standing at second and with two outs, last season’s MVP came to the plate, returning from a short absence. Performance Lab took an extended meeting within the center-circle, and coach Steve Alcorn made the call to walk Stephanie Teixeira (1.588 slg%) and bring up Ashley Razey who had struck out her previous two at-bats. Razey would punish that decision severely with a centerfield dinger (her 9th homerun of the season) that scored 3. With the game narrowed to a single run, pressure fell onto the shoulders of both pitchers. Performance Lab hit into a double play in their half of the seventh putting a halt to any chance for insurance runs. Lipovsky would show off her talents in her half, as she struck out two (for an end total of 13Ks) and close out a 4-3 victory.
Game two did not resemble the slow-starting game one. Five of the first six Performance Lab batters reached base safely and scored runs. Both Amanda Jones and Haley Cooper hit two-run RBI singles in the opening frame. Moh-Beel! USA is not one to let runs go unanswered so Savannah Horvath and Maddy Grimm hit back-to-back solo shots, then Stephanie Teixeira would get home on a fielder’s choice hit by Rachel Vieira. Alexis Bonanno (2-1) stopped Performance Lab in the 2nd inning, and Madelyn Yanetti (in relief for Abbey Pratt) would do the same to the Moh-Beel! Batters who left five Runners on base in the first two innings. Jessica Burlingame hit a homerun for Performance Lab in the 3rd to expand the lead to 6-3 but Moh-Beel! would respond again, tying the game with an Aaliyah Gibson single that scored one followed by a Savannah Horvath (27 RBIs) single that scored Gibson (15 runs) and Laurisa “Yaya” Hernandez. The game now tied after 3, Performance Lab seemed to go quietly in the 4th, but a couple of errors allowed Madelyn Yanetti to survive an infield hit and advance to second on a fielder’s choice hit by Xiarysse Emerenciana. This set the stage for Jaime Johnson to get her first home run of the season and build an insurmountable 3 run lead. As usual, Performance Lab turned to Allison Lipovsky to close out the win, and despite a few situations where Moh-Beel! USA felt some hope, Lipovsky got 8 Ks in 4 innings and her second consecutive win. Final Score: 9-6.
Performance Lab’s win streak goes to 6 (the longest streak of any team this year), and they move to 3 games behind Moh-Beel! USA with a three-day rest before they play against The Field on the 9th. This league loves patterns, as the two teams who just pulled off sweeps face each other for the second consecutive series.