Softball: Burlington Central’s 19 runs enough to nip DeKalb
By Scott Miller For Sun-Times Media May 26, 2012 6:56PM
Updated: July 3, 2012 11:27AM
It’s not often a team blows a seven-run lead and later rallies from a six-run deficit in the same game, but no lead was safe until the very final out of Saturday’s wild Class 3A Burlington Central Regional championship.
When the dust finally settled the host Rockets had a 19-18 victory against DeKalb and their first regional crown since 2009. The teams combined for 38 hits and each squad committed four errors in the nearly three-hour rollercoaster affair that is sure to be remembered by all involved for a long time.
Burlington Central (28-8) led the Barbs 7-0 after two innings only to fall behind 14-8 midway through the fifth inning. However, the fun was just getting started.
The Rockets rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fifth and six more in the sixth inning to take a 19-14 lead, but even that was barely enough as Burlington Central had to hold on for dear life as DeKalb rallied for four runs in the final inning and had the tying run on third base before Brooke Gaylord struck out the final batter to end the game.
“That is by far the most exciting game I have ever played in,” said Burlington Central senior Emily Bell, who had four RBI, including a three-run homer. “It was just crazy. When they came back on us we knew we were going to have to keep swinging the bats if we were going to have any chance. We just all came together and got it done.”
Bell was visibly upset after a pair of strikeouts earlier in the game and an error at first base in the top of the fifth inning that led to seven unearned runs for DeKalb. However, she came back to ignite the Rockets rally by hitting a three-run blast over the center-field fence to start the scoring in the fifth inning.
“I just had to put everything that had gone wrong behind me,” said Bell. “I just cleared my mind and went up to the plate focusing on what was happening next.”
Haley Albamonte and Sarah Kisch added RBI singles later in the fifth inning as the Rockets pulled to within 14-13. Bekah Harnish tied the game at 14 with an RBI single in the sixth inning. Harnish also had a two-run homer in the first inning and an RBI single in a five-run fifth inning for the Rockets.
“We got a little bit down when they came back and took the lead,” said Harnish. “But we stuck together and kept picking each other up. It was a crazy game, but we kept having faith that we could pull it out.”
After Harnish tied the game the bases remained loaded for Gaylord, who drew a walk to force in the go-ahead run to make it 15-14. Albamonte bunted safely to bring in another run, Kisch followed with a bloop single to tally another and Lauren King finished the scoring by driving in what proved to be a pair of all important insurance runs with a single to right center.
“What a game,” said Central coach Allen Cray. “Both teams really played their hearts out. Neither team was going to give up.
“When we got down in the fifth inning I just reminded them that there was a lot of game still left, and as we had already seen, anything could happen. So, we were going to play like it is a one-run game and just try to get one run at a time. I’m really proud of the way our girls hung in there.”
Gaylord, who has been nursing a sore arm lately, came on in relief of starter Angie Morrow to pick up the win. Gaylord pitched a scoreless sixth, but then surrendered four runs in the seventh before closing out the game.
After falling behind 7-0, DeKalb (19-15) scored four runs in the third, three more in the fourth, and seven in the fifth. Hannah Walter had a three-run, inside-the-park homer for the Barbs in the fourth inning. Sarah Friedland and Jessica Townsend each drove home two runs in the fifth inning. Katie Kowalski pitched the entire game for DeKalb and took the loss.
“In scouting them and knowing our team I would never have imagined this type of game,” said DeKalb coach Jeff Davis. “I was thinking 4-3, maybe 7-5 or something like that. I would have bet my house that there wouldn’t be this many runs.
“It was a great game. Both teams played their butts off. It’s one of those games where it’s too bad somebody has to lose. Unfortunately it was us, but I’m proud the way our girls kept fighting.”