ST. MARYS — The St. Marys Minor League softball team used two big innings, getting four runs in the top of the third and six more in the fourth to defeat DuBois, 11-5, in the District 10 winners’ bracket final on Thursday evening at Benzinger Park.
The win puts St. Marys in the District 10 championship game on Monday evening. For DuBois, they now drop down to the losers’ bracket final, where they will take on Punxsutawney on Saturday afternoon for the trip to the championship game against St. Marys.
St. Marys struck first with a run off DuBois’ Ava Baronick in the top of the first. Lucy Klawuhn singled with one out, while Rylee Nicklas also had a base hit two batters later. Both runners moved up two bases on two wild pitches, with the second one bringing Klawuhn home, but Nicklas was stranded at third after a popout ended the inning.
DuBois answered back with two runs in the bottom of the first. CC Blasdell led off and was hit by a pitch by Nicklas, the St. Marys pitcher. Blasdell stole second base and moved to third as the ball got into center field on the throw down to second.
Baronick then walked and took second on a fielder’s indifference. Later in the next at-bat, Blasdell scored on a wild pitch, while Baronick advanced to third. Lexi Berta then hit a single to bring home Baronick, giving DuBois a 2-1 lead.
Nicklas also gave up a walk after the Berta single, but got the next three batters to strike out.
Baronick stranded two runners in scoring position in the top of the second before DuBois went back to work in the bottom half of the inning.
Tessa Shaffer and Sidney Graham were both hit to start off the inning. Later in the inning, Shaffer came home on a wild pitch to give DuBois a 3-1 lead.
DuBois had the bases loaded with two outs, but Nicklas got a ground ball to Klawuhn at shortstop, who fired home to get the lead runner on a force out to limit the damage.
St. Marys then found its stride at the plate, getting four runs on four hits in the top of the third to take a 5-3 lead.
Avery Eckels had an RBI single in the inning, while Mya Pistner blasted a two-run single up the middle.
St. Marys scored its first run of the inning as Gianna Surra stole second base and came all the way home as the ball traveled into center field and got past the DuBois center fielder.
St. Marys allowed a Marina Hanes single and an Ashtyn Buzzard walk in the bottom of the third, but got out of a jam as Nicklas struck out the side.
St. Marys blew the game open in the top of the fourth with six runs, with almost all of the damage coming with one out. DuBois started off the frame with a strikeout, but Klawuhn, Surra and Nicklas hit three consecutive doubles to take a 7-3 lead. Eckels followed with an RBI single to extend the lead to five runs.
The inning ended as Molly Hanslovan appeared to have hit a two-run single that would have given St. Marys a 12-3 lead. But DuBois appealed the play, saying that the second runner didn’t touch third base on her way home, and the third base umpire agreed and the score stayed at 11-3.
Nicklas allowed only one DuBois baserunner in each of the fourth and fifth innings –a one-out single to Berta in the fourth and a one-out walk to Hanes in the fifth.
Berta, who came on to pitch for Baronick in the fourth, didn’t allow any more damage from the powerful St. Marys lineup. Berta pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits, walked three and struck out one.
DuBois added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth to finish out the game. Graham walked to start the inning, and Baronick poked a one-out triple down the left field line to score Graham. Baronick then scored on a Berta sacrifice fly to set the final.
Saturday’s losers’ bracket final between DuBois and Punxsy will begin at 4 p.m.
The championship game on Monday evening between the losers’ bracket winner and St. Marys will start at 6 p.m.