By Jim Hunter
The intense McLane/Cochranton versus Mid-East/Titusville game turned with one swing of the bat.
Ignited by Alma Mamani’s bases-loaded, game-tying triple in the fifth inning, the fiery McLane/Cochranton diamonders — overcoming a 5-0 deficit — forced the if-necessary game in the District 1 Junior League championship finals with a 12-8 win Sunday night at the Ed Myers Sports Complex.
The if-necessary game will be played tonight at 6 p.m. at the General McLane Recreation Complex.
Within a few minutes into the game, McLane/Cochranton coach Don Harvey was a little worried the if-necessary game wouldn’t be played, as Mid-East/Titusville exploded for five runs in the top of the first inning.
“Was I concerned at this time? ... somewhat,” he said. “Most definitely, it was no way to start a game.”
Harvey’s gals eased his early heartache with three runs in the bottom half of the first.
“When we scored in the bottom half, I felt a whole lot better about our chances,” he said.
McLane/Cochranton still had an uphill battle.
Mid-East/Titusville pitcher Dawsyn Wheeling settled down after the first and only allowed two runs over the next three innings.
Offensively, MET tacked on three more runs to take an 8-5 lead going into the fifth inning.
After McLane/Cochranton hurler Hannah Harvey retired Mid-East/Titusville 1-2-3 in the top half of the fifth, Mamani delivered her statement blow in the bottom half.
With one out, Hannah Johnston singled to right field and Abby Staley legged out a bunt single. After Haley Wells reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases, Mamani drove Wheeling’s first pitch into the right-center field gap to clear the bases and tie MET at 8-8.
Mamani’s shot electrified the MC dugout ... and defused the MET dugout.
“Alma came through for us, and you have to give credit to our Nos. 8 and 9 batters (Johnston and Staley) for starting the inning,” said the elder Harvey.
After the younger Harvey’s second consecutive 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, McLane/Cochranton broke the 8-8 deadlock with four runs in the bottom half.
Haley Carter and Kristine May — Harvey’s Nos. 6 and 7 sticks — led off with successive singles and M/C capitalized on four MET errors.
In the seventh, Hannah Harvey — who got stronger as the game went on — threw her third consecutive hitless inning, and the if-necessary game was necessary.
“Coming through the loser’s bracket, I’ve been preaching to the girls to take it one pitch at a time, and we have been doing that,” said Harvey.
Notes: McLane/Cochranton’s top sticks were May (3-for-4, two RBI), Megan Haynes (2-for-3) and Harvey (2-for-4, four runs scored, four stolen bases) ... Wheeling, Angi King, Hadley Barker, Faith Sansom and Sarah Kurlowegh collected MET’s hits ... Harvey struck out 11 and walked four ... Cochranton High School softball/volleyball standout Sam Kinter can do something else quite well around a softball diamond: Talking into a mic. She was the PA announcer and did a fantastic job.