By Ryan Jones
Canfield scored six times in the second inning of the MAC showdown.
POLAND — Solid pitching, stellar defense and a six-run second inning Tuesday propelled Canfield to a 7-4 victory over Metro Athletic Conference rival Poland.
The Cardinals (8-2) kept their perfect mark (6-0) in the MAC, while Poland dropped to 3-2.
Canfield senior Melissa West said winning at Poland is a supreme confidence booster.
“It’s always a great to beat your archrival,” West said. “We take a lot of pride in beating Poland and it’s never easy to do at their place.”
The Cardinals jumped to a 6-1 lead after the second inning and relied on right arm of senior Lauren Sulick to keep the Bulldogs’ bats in check.
Sulick, who threw a complete game 10-hitter with three strikeouts, called her performance solid, but said she had some nerves in the bottom of the seventh when Poland brought the potential winning run to the plate.
After Sulick recorded the first two outs of the seventh, Poland’s Jenna Medina, Liz Maher and Jenna Barnhart hit consecutive singles to load the bases. Jordan Palumbo followed with an RBI single to right that scored Medina to cut the lead to 7-4.
“I knew that I could come through,” Sulick said about the seventh inning. “I just wanted to make sure I didn’t give them anything good to hit. It was easier to do knowing that I have a great defense out there.”
Sulick thwarted the Poland rally when she got the next batter to hit into a fielder’s choice to end the game.
Canfield coach Ronie Haurin said Sulick did a good job battling against a good Poland lineup.
“She [Sulick] gave up some hits, but didn’t fall behind many hitters and she kept the pressure on them,” Haurin said. “We didn’t commit any errors and when you’re fielding it like we did it takes many hits in a row to score on us. I don’t think there’s a better team in the area defensively.”
Canfield catapulted ahead in the second when leadoff batter Amanda Moliterno walked and Amanda Colonna singled up the middle.
Bryanne Halfhill reached on a fielder’s choice that advanced Colonna to second. Sulick followed by grounding to second, but an error loaded the bases.
The error proved to be costly for the Bulldogs. Rachel Melewski hit an RBI single that scored Colonna, and Brittany Danilov followed with a sacrifice fly that allowed Halfhill to score, giving Canfield a 2-1 lead.
Sulick scored on an infield single by West. Melewski scored on a fielder’s choice, West on an RBI single by Tricia Bettura and Bettura was pushed home by Melanie West’s RBI single to bring the lead to 6-1
Poland coach Reid Lamport said almost anything that could have happened in the second inning, did.
“We walked the leadoff runner and then dropped a ball at second base that would have been an out,” Lamport said. “We extended an inning with a good team at the plate, and that’s never good.
“Usually these games are decided by the team that doesn’t make the necessary plays. If you would have told me we were going to score four earned runs against a team [Canfield] that traditionally doesn’t give up many, I would have taken it.”