By greg gulas
Macey Gunther’s three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning helped lift Ursuline to a 6-3, come-from-behind victory over Howland on Friday at Candelite Knolls.
Makayla Shore scattered four hits and struck out eight for the Irish as she improved to 7-1 on the season.
“It was a fastball outside and I just went with the pitch. I made an error in the bottom of the sixth inning so I wanted to redeem myself,” Gunther said. “Our play today taught us not to give up, keep the passion and heart and only good things will happen.”
The game was only one of three first-round matchups in the sixth annual Irish Strike Out Cancer Invitational with Ashtabula Edgewood, East Palestine, Jackson-Milton and West Branch also competing in the two-day tourney.
The fundraiser, which has now raised more than $1,500 in each of the past two years, donates all proceeds from this weekend’s event to local cancer organizations.
“The most important thing is that our kids get to participate in a charitable fundraiser while understanding cancer awareness. To come from behind like we did today, especially after giving up the lead late was a real character builder,” Ursuline coach Mike Kernan said. “Macey and M.K. [Shore] have been our leaders and today both were outstanding once again at the plate and in the field.”
The cold weather put a damper on both teams offensively as each could manage just one hit through the first five innings of play.
Gunther’s double with one out plated McKenzie Stimpert with the game’s first run amd she later scored on a throwing error on her steal of third for a 2-0 Irish advantage.
The lead was short lived, however, as the Tigers (3-5) rallied for three runs in their half of the sixth, highlighted by freshman Hannah Kowach’s two-run blast to give Howland a 3-2 advantage.
Ursuline (8-1) knotted the game at 3 in its half of the seventh inning when Anny Carroll’s single scored Stephanie O’Halek.
They later took the lead for good on Gunther’s three-run blast, which was her fifth round tripper of the season.
“It was a cold day so I just tried to mix up my pitches, relying most on my curve, change-up and riser. Today, I was just trying to do whatever I needed to do in order to help my team,” Shore said.
Shore and Gunther, both of whom relish their leadership roles, are a mutual admiration society.
“Macey is truly one of a kind. She has game and is a game-changer and you witnessed that first-hand today,” Shore said.
Gunther couldn’t stop praising Shore’s mound effort.
“M.K. definitely knows what to throw and when to throw certain pitches. She never gets down, battles every hitter and did just that today,” Gunther said.
The Tigers, who have now dropped five of their first eight contests, were one out away from reaching the elusive the .500 mark.
“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities offensively and that hurt us in the end. Ursuline is a solid team — a good team that is capable of scoring runs in a hurry,” Tigers coach Bill Amero said. “We are a young team with only one senior and our pitcher, Hannah Burke, has pitched all but two innings this year. She really did a nice job for us today.”
Burke had three strikeouts while walking four in a losing effort.
Shore did not walk a batter in her seven innings.