Bruins battle back with a seventh-inning bash
Friday, May 3
It certainly appeared that Barlow's softball team was locked down for its first league loss Friday night, but like Houdini the Bruins unshackled themselves at the last moment trick fate and leave onlookers shocked.
Down four runs heading into their final at-bats, Sammie Pemberton stepped into the batter's box and bunted a ball that rolled just foul down the third-base line. Two pitches later, she cleared the center-field fence with a two-run homer.
"It was our last chance to get it back — I just wanted to hit it deep and get it started," Pemberton said.
Barlow kept it going when Savannah Darling punched a ball to the center-field grass and slid under the tag at second base for a double. Teammate Bergan Grant singled to put the tying run on base with nobody out.
Reynolds responded with Vanessa Smoke narrowly missing out on a double play after catching a blooper on the fringe of the infield. Raiders catcher Olivia Hutchins tracked down a pop up behind the plate to put Reynolds one out from victory.
Barlow senior, and No. 9 hitter, Tyler Swindell stepped into the batter's box next.
"The vibes were running really high," she said. "You could tell looking at their faces that they they they had won it, and I was like 'No, you don't'."
Swindell let her bat do the talking with a two-run double into the right-field gap to tie the game.
But Barlow wasn't done.
Alexa Bailey put a bunt in play, and a high throw to first base opened the door for pinch-runner Chloe Hilstenteger to score the winning run from second base.
"I noticed the corners playing back. I saw the opportunity, and I took it," Bailey said.
Bruins poured out the dugout to celebrate the surprising win that pushed Barlow to 11-0 in league.
"Scoring that run was all that was going through my mind. I saw the bad throw, and I knew I could get there," Hilsenteger said. "I could see the fans cheering as I came home."
"Every girl who came up that inning seemed to get a clutch hit," Barlow coach Rob Gehrke said. "Reynolds showed why it has 18 wins this season — that was a great game."
The teams traded the lead three times with Reynolds seeming to make a winning push with five runs in the fifth.
Maya Phillips came up with a crazy RBI-single for the go-ahead run after sending a bouncer down the first-base line. Barlow's Emily Virell stepped up to snag the ball, but the players collided three steps in front of the bag, and the ball popped out of her glove. Still, thinking she was out, Phillips started back to the visitor's dugout before a commotion broke out behind her as Barlow tried to get the ball back to first base.
The Bruins would not be in time.
Phillips spun around and made a diagonal dive, getting a hand back on first base a split-second before the tag.
Her wild trip on the bases was not over yet.
Phillips worked her way around to third base when teammate Mikayla Buffington sent a head-high laser down the left field line, prompting Phillips to stop in her tracks and duck before continuing her trot home for an 8-4 Raiders lead.
Reynolds shortstop Kayley King killed a Barlow comeback chance with a double play in the sixth inning, but the outs would not come as easily in the seventh.
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This story is slated for our Tuesday, May 7, print edition.