EUREKA – On as good of a day from a weather perspective as it’s been this spring, there were several goose eggs on the scoreboard on Tuesday.
The only crooked number posted came with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 1-0 Eureka win over Heart of Illinois Conference rival Fieldcrest at the middle school.
Fieldcrest’s lower end of the batting order was retired in the top of the seventh, while Eureka (12-7, 7-4) had the top half of theirs for the bottom half.
With one out, Tessa Leman looped a fly ball down the left field line for extra bases. She got to second with a double and advanced to third when the outfield throw got away.
“Based on the game to that point, I was hoping to score one,” Hornets’ coach John Stromberger said. “I felt great when Tessa got on. We could use her speed to do a little bit behind her.”
Morgan Greene took the first pitch she saw from Fieldcrest’s Emma Lorton and lofted one deep enough to center to allow Leman to race home on for the game-winning run via sacrifice fly.
Lorton (5-11) put baserunners in all but one inning, but she managed not to get knocked off the tightrope to keep the Knights (6-11, 4-6) around. She walked five and hit another to go with 10 strikeouts.
Early on, she was missing high and away.
“It was just the different pitches was the thing,” pointed out Fieldcrest coach Liz Kay. “We were trying to make them chase a little bit up in the zone.”
The Hornets loaded the bases in the fifth, but failed to score.
Fieldcrest had a golden opportunity in the second. With two outs, Aubrey McNamara singled to left, but Kay, who was in the third base coaching box, elected to hold Paige Sons and not try to send her. Sons led off the frame with a single to left.
“We really like to be aggressive, but I thought they had a good (defensive) read,” Kay said. “It depends on the kind of jump.”
Quincy Boschulte (6-3) ended the threat with a strikeout, one of her 11 on the day. She was highly effective with off-speed pitches.
“We preach that a lot of getting ahead in the count,” said Stromberger. “With the quality of hitters in our conference, you have to use the changeup. Getting ahead was key for us. You have to keep them off-balance.”
Sons supplied two of the Knights’ three hits.
Of the 17 games Fieldcrest has had on the season, nine times they scored one run or less.
“We’ve been working on swings pretty much all year,” said Kay. “It’s something I think before too long is going to come. We’re all great hitters. I know that. They know that. They just have to have a breakthrough.”
Leman also tacked on a single for the hosts, who finished with four hits.
Eureka was able to shake off the day before at Lexington/Ridgeview.
“We were not happy with our performance. It was good to get back at it. Our defense played much better,” Stromberger stated.