By Brandon judeh
Things were relatively quiet during Canfield’s 2-0 victory over Hubbard until the bottom of the fifth inning in a Division II district semifinal at Union Title Field.
Senior pitcher Abby Baker smashed a triple into right field to lead things off and Kara Rothbauer doubled her in to break the scoreless tie.
Rothbauer followed her clutch hit with perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game.
With two outs and a runner on second base, Hubbard’s Taylor Barton hit a seeing-eye single into center field. Rothbauer fired the ball home, and catcher Amelia Mauenti did the rest.
“When I saw the ball coming, all I could think was, ‘Hold on to it. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze,’ ” Mauenti said. “I had a lot of adrenaline going through me.”
Mauenti held on and applied the tag, killing the Eagles’ rally.
Mauenti also contributed at the dish, knocking in the Cardinals’ second run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
“Coming into this game our coach (Ray Melewski) told us that anything could happen because this is the district semifinals,” Baker said. “He told us we can’t assume we are going to win this game, or go up to the plate and get a hit every time.”
Baker pitched a masterpiece, scattering three hits and striking out eight.
Canfield (17-8) advances to play at 5 p.m. today in Alliance against All-American Conference-American Division rival Poland.
The Bulldogs defeated West Branch, 5-0, thanks to a three-run fifth inning and a stellar pitching performance by senior Kasie Serich.
Poland (22-7) was clinging to a two-run lead in the bottom of the fifth when pinch hitter Meredith Tesone reached on a bunt single. Three run-scoring singles followed and the Bulldogs never looked back.
“That was a big inning,” Poland coach Matt Campbell said. “Any time you can put up a few runs against a great team like West Branch helps with the momentum.”
Marissa Trevis, Arlia Duarte and Aleah Hughes all knocked in runs during Poland’s big inning.
Serich took care of the rest. She struck out six and scattered three hits over seven innings of work against the Warriors (22-6).
Campbell says that his game plan for Serich was the same as always — let Kasie be Kasie.
“She’s been our workhorse all year long, she relies on movement and hitting various spots, she, yet again had another great performance,” added Campbell.
Hughes went 2-3 with an RBI for Poland while West Branch captain Cheyenne Miller doubled.
Next up for Poland is a familiar foe in Canfield. The Bulldogs fell to the Lady Cardinals both times during the regular season for the first time in more than five years.
This is something Campbell says has motivated his girls.
“After we lost both games to them, I told the girls we were going to have to win our games in order to get one more shot at them and we are fortunate to get the opportunity to face them a third time.”