By Pete Chiodo
“We needed hits,” said Conneaut sophomore Emily Baum. “We needed to come around the bases and make it home.”
She’s talking about her team’s situation after five and a half innings against Region 6 opponent Meadville on Tuesday.
Conneaut had built itself a 4-0 advantage, only to see it slip away in the top of the sixth when the visiting Bulldogs rang up five runs to take over the lead.
As Baum said, the Eagles needed hits. And hits they got, including four singles, one double, one triple and two home runs all in a nine-run bottom-of-the-sixth, which pushed Conneaut to a 13-5 victory over Meadville.
“We got down on ourselves,” said Baum. “But we brought it back. We hit and we got it back up.”
Baum led off that sixth inning with a triple into the gap in right center. She would come back around in the frame and tattoo her first career home run to straight away center field, giving her seven bases in just one inning.
“It just came right off the bat,” Baum said about the bomb. “It was a nice, sweet spot.”
Right before Baum’s home run, teammate Kristen Baker touched them all on an inside-the-park home run to left field.
And right after Baum’s home run, Becca Hazen singled and scored. It was her second hit of the inning. She singled Baum home from third in her first trip to the plate in the stanza. Hazen was 3-for-4 for the afternoon with a 0single and a run in the first inning.
After Hazen’s second hit of the sixth, Sahara Blair ripped an RBI double to right-center field. She had also walked earlier in the inning.
Also getting a hit in the sixth was Kristen Laird, who singled in a run and scored.
The Eagles sent 13 batters to the plate in the frame.
“They rebounded,” said Conneaut head coach Stephanie Baer. “I think they could tell that I was not happy with them.”
Baer and company didn’t have much to be happy about in the top of the inning. Meadville’s five-spot was helped along by three free bases (two walks and one hit batter), two passed balls and three Conneaut errors. And the Bulldogs’ Taylor Nottingham amplified the damage with a clutch two-out, two-run single up the middle.
“We’ve been pretty good at having that one inning per game where we lose focus,” said Baer. “Once one person makes a mistake, it just seems to waterfall from there. We tried to pull it together. We made a couple changes and figured things out and got out of the inning.”
Meadville also did Conneaut a few favors with some defensive errors — seven in all, including three in the decisive sixth.
“Conneaut hit the ball well,” said Meadville head coach Jim Moats. “But we made a couple early mistakes that put us in that situation. And any time you give a team momentum they’re just going to jump on it.
“But I’m proud of the girls. We got down early, and it was those little mistakes that we keep making that we’ve got to learn to get better on. But they came back. They didn’t quit.”
Blair got the pitching win for the Eagles (4-3, 3-2 Region 6). Through seven innings she allowed five runs, all unearned, on four hits while giving up five walks and striking out seven.
Other than the big hitters in the sixth, the Eagles also got a single and a run from Brooke Phelps in the second inning and a lead-off double and a score from Jenn Krider in the third.
For Meadville (1-6, 1-4), Billee Myers was 2-for-3 at the plate with two singles. She was also hit by a pitch and scored in the sixth.
Alexis Rhoades was charged with the pitching loss. Of the 13 runs allowed, only one was earned. She gave up 10 hits, walked just one and struck out eight.