Archive for Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Riling scores runs in final pool play game for first win of tourney

July 27, 2005

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Phenix-Riling wanted to get one win in pool play heading into the 18-U American Fastpitch Assn. National "B" Tournament bracket play.

The team was shut out in its two previous contests and needed to get their bats going to pull out the victory as the game against the Omaha Extreme on Thursday game down to the final inning.

Erin Millier got Phenix off to a good start with a base hit. Three stolen bases later and Phenix had a 1-0 lead to start the game.

Solid pitching from Karen Spence and help from the defense took the Extreme down in order.

Sachi Sakumura made a great catch on a pop fly and a quick throw to third to get the runner.

Extreme pitcher Krystin Adams shut down the Riling offense in the second, striking out Beth Leistra and Laura Williams and forcing Sakumura to pop the ball up for the third out of the inning.

Spence returned to the mound and continued to pitch well for the Riling, allowing only one hit and forcing three batters to fly out.

Centerfielder Ciara Grame-Caughron and second baseman Beth Leistra made the grabs.

After two innings, Phenix-Riling held on to its one-run lead.

In the third, the Phenix failed to score, stranding one runner on base. After Adams grounded into an out in the bottom of the third, Katie Assmann reached base on a walk and later came home on an RBI double from Erin O'Hara.

O'Hara came home on the next play and gave Omaha a 2-1 lead. The lead didn't last long.

Phenix responded in the bottom of the fourth, starting with a lead-off single from Kim Gilges. Sakumura brought home another runner. And, by the third out, Riling had regained the Phenix's one-run lead.

In the bottom of the inning, Spence came out with solid pitching, forcing Adams to groundout and strand a runner at third.

Three batters into the fifth, time expired. But rules allowed the rest of the inning to be completed.

Phenix didn't add any runs in the top of the inning, and all the girls needed to do was preserve their one-run lead to take the victory.

The inning started out well with Spence recording her second strikeout of the game. After two base hits, though, Danielle Topolski's hit to the gap in center field brought around the tying and winning runs, giving a 4-3 victory to the Extreme.

"We need to cut down on errors, stay alert and we should be OK," Coach Mike Riling said.

In its first bracket-play game Phenix-Riling defeated the KV Illusion, 4-2.

In the second round, Riling dropped a game to Manitoba Magic. The team then went into the losers bracket where they ended up falling to the KC Eclipse, 9-5, and being knocked out of the tournament.

Riling saw it as a disadvantage to be playing at home.

"The team is not as focused as the other teams competing in the tournament," he said.

"We are keeping a normal schedule, and the other teams are spending all of their time together focused on what they need to do to win."

For Phenix-Riling players, their departure from the tournament was sooner than they had wanted.

But with a young squad, the team will return many girls next year and look to improve on its tournament play.

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