Glencoe falls to Jesuit 2-1 in Metro League finale
Glencoe had an opportunity to win the Metro League Championship outright with a win over Jesuit Friday, May 11, at Jesuit High School. Leading both the Crusaders and the Westview Wildcats by a game entering Friday's contest, it was simple; win and it's yours, lose and share it three ways.
There are three champions.
Jesuit made a big mistake early, were later the beneficiaries of a Crimson Tide error, then executed when it mattered most en route to a 2-1 win in the two teams' regular season finale, and in the process staked a third of the 2018 Metro League title.
"It was a good game between two quality teams with two great pitchers," said Jesuit head coach Jim Speciale. "We knew it was going to be a battle, and it usually comes down to who makes the fewest mistakes, and my bonehead mistake in the first inning cost us a run."
The "bonehead mistake" which he referenced, truly was that. After Glencoe had gone three-and-out in the top half of the first inning, Jesuit wasted little time getting on the board in the bottom half when Jenny Marnin scored on what appeared to be an RBI double by freshman outfielder Madison Mayhew. Problem being, the Crusaders had batted out of order. Reyan Tuck — who was slotted in the clean-up position — batted third and had flown-out to centerfield prior to Mayhew's at-bat. Following Mayhew's double, the mistake was discovered and Mayhew was called out, ending the inning and leaving the game tied 0-0.
"We had a kid (Maya Williams) get injured, so I've been switching the lineup around and that was my mistake," said Speciale. "We just talked about moving on and getting through it."
Tuck said the team addressed it in-between innings and simply decided not to let it beat them twice.
"We just told ourselves we had to just do our jobs and get our things done to get the win," she said.
And they did — in comeback fashion.
Glencoe got their run in the second, when following a lead-off strikeout, Taylor Butterfield tripled off the wall in left centerfield and later scored on a Dana Butterfield bunt single, to give the Tide a 1-0 lead. The two teams did little else over the first four innings as the two all-league pitchers, Glencoe's Izzy Womack and Jesuit's Olivia Strickland worked their way through the opposing lineups. It wasn't until the bottom of the fifth that the Crusaders threatened, starting the inning with a Grace Kyle single and successfully bunting her to second with Ellie McClaskey coming to the plate. McClaskey then grounded out to Glencoe shortstop Morgan DeBord, but on the throw to first Kyle rounded third and started for home, only to be caught dead to rights as Tide catcher Ash Bailey got the ball from first baseman Megan Gaskin. A pickle ensued, but Glencoe dropped the ball on a routine play that would've ended the inning, but instead resulted in Jesuit's first run and the game was now tied 1-1.
"Games like this often come down to a couple timely hits and a little bit of luck," said Glencoe head coach Jason Eastman. "That was one of those plays, and this time it worked in their favor."
Glencoe went quietly in the sixth thanks to another tidy inning by Strickland, who tallied two of her game-high 14 strikeouts and got Dana Butterfield to groundout to end the inning.
Then, after Womack got Sammie Petitt out on strikes to start the bottom of the sixth, Jesuit's Marnin singled and moved to second on a Mayhew sacrifice bunt, then scored what would ultimately be the winning run when Tuck singled to center to break the tie and give the Crusaders a 2-1 lead.
"All was thinking was that I wanted to do this for my team," said Tuck. "My teammates are my sisters and I wanted to get it done just for them."
The Tide went down in order in the seventh, the final two on strikeouts, setting off a Jesuit celebration while Glencoe was left to settle for a share of the title they wanted outright.
"They're competitors so they hate losing, but we talked about how this game will make us better," said Eastman. "This is the type of game we want to play going into the postseason."
Speciale was proud of his girls, and especially appreciative of them digging him out from beneath the hole he'd created with the first inning miscue.
"The girls picked me up," the coach said with a smile. "They played well. We had two good sacrifice bunts, a couple key hits, and we got lucky with that mistake at third. But we've been in that position before too, and when you put pressure on teams things can happen, especially in big games like this."
Now both teams head for the postseason, where Speciale hopes to avoid an early matchup with the Tide or any of the other formidable Metro League opponents. The OSAA rankings will dictate the bracket and could lead to an intraleague second round contest. But while the Jesuit skipper hoped to dodge such a collision, Eastman said it weighed little on his mind.
"We don't really care who we see because to be the best, you've got to beat the best," Eastman said. "Being in the Metro and competing every night against teams like Jesuit only makes us better, and we're ready to play whoever they put in front of us."
Tuck led Jesuit at the plate, finishing 2-for-2 with the game-winning RBI. Strickland allowed just two Glencoe hits while striking out 14 and walking just two.
Glencoe's Womack allowed just four hits while striking out four and walking one.
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