HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Line Mountain rallies past East Juniata
MANDATA - Line Mountain must like taking things down to the wire.
Both the Eagles' 13-12 win over East Juniata Tuesday and their playoff push have been dependent on late-inning heroics. But, as they say, late is better than never.
Line Mountain still needs three wins in four games to qualify for the District 4 playoffs, but the Eagles have to like their chances more after this latest come-from-behind win.
East Juniata led by as much as eight runs early in the game, but the Eagles chipped away with runs in every inning but the first to win on a walk-off single by Deidre Long that scored Sarah Lahr.
"It was exciting," said Savannah Copson, who picked up the win in relief in the circle. "Anyone can beat anyone else on any given day, so we need to play our hardest all the time."
Six Eagles players had multi-hit games during a 21-hit day, but Line Mountain was cut no slack by East Juniata, which had 17 hits.
The Tigers started with two runs in the first inning, but could have had more after loading the bases.
East Juniata tacked on four more runs in the second thanks to some defensive miscues, but the Eagles got out of the inning on a double play.
Jayci London fielded a grounder at third, threw to Cassie Masser at first for the out, who then flipped it back to London to get an out at third on a runner trying to advance.
It seemed to mark a change in fortunes for the Eagles.
"Defense got better as the game went on," Line Mountain head coach Jordan Taraschuk said. "It wasn't great at any point, but at the end when we couldn't let them increase the lead the defense got us some outs. And thank God, our hitting came around the last couple innings because it was starting to look like a long one there."
Copson started the Eagles eventual hit parade.
The senior tripled to center and scored on a single by Lahr to get on the board, but East Juniata scored another three runs and led 9-1 after its half of the third inning.
The Eagles scored another run in the third when Kiana Lukoskie singled to right and got a little daring on the bases, barely beating out two separate pick-off attempts.
Line Mountain's rally really started in the fourth when the Eagles batted around and scored four runs to cut the Tigers' lead to 9-6.
"They had some long innings, and then we came back and had some long innings," Taraschuk said. "Fortunately, we ran the bases well enough and put ourselves into scoring position so when we got something out of the infield we got some runs across to keep it close."
The Eagles stayed within striking distance of the Tigers with three more runs in the fifth to counter the three East Juniata scored in its half of the fifth.
But unlike Line Mountain, which scored another four runs, East Juniata's offense sputtered in the last two innings. Line Mountain took advantage.
After the Eagles scored another run in the sixth, London singled to start the seventh. Lukoskie followed with a single, before the Tigers got two quick outs with a strikeout and a force out on London at third.
Then with two outs, Line Mountain reeled off four clutch at-bats, which included three hits and a walk to tie the game, before Long's timely hit to keep many Eagles' hopes still beating.
"We go into every game knowing that if we lose more than one game, we're done," Copson said.
EAST JUNIATA (AB-R-H-BI) - Marker 3-2-1-0, Maguire 5-3-3-1, Sheaffer 3-2-1-0, Crabel 1-0-1-0, Dressler 5-2-3-1, Schilling 2-0-0-0, Lash 1-0-0-0, Erhard 5-1-2-1, Hunter 5-0-3-1, Heintzelman 3-1-1-0, Snyder 2-0-1-0, Shambaugh 2-0-0-0, Keatts 2-1-1-0. Totals 39-12-17-4.
LINE MOUNTAIN (AB-R-H-BI) - B. Long 3-1-0-1, London 5-2-2-0, Lukoskie 5-3-3-1, Boyer 5-1-3-2, Copson 5-2-3-1, Lahr 5-1-4-3, Masser 3-0-0-0, Giordani 1-1-1-0, Reed 5-2-4-1, D. Long 4-0-1-2. Totals 41-13-21-11.
Extra-base hits: 2B - Maguire, Hunter. 3B - Lukoskie, Copson.
IP H R ER BB K
Erhard 6.2 21 13 12 4 2
Reed 2.1 8 8 7 5 1
Copson (W) 4.2 9 3 3 0 4