It took until the fifth inning, but Mt. Hebron finally got the big hit with runners in scoring position that it was looking for Tuesday afternoon.
Aaliyah Montague-Bass delivered a double to left field, scoring pinch-runner Kelsey Albert from second base, to provide what ended up being the deciding blow in a 2-1 victory over Glenelg on the road.
The RBI hit by Montague-Bass, combined with a solo home run by freshman Rylee Kinsella in the third inning, were the highlights for a Vikings team that ended up overcoming the fact that they stranded nine runners on second or third.
With junior Maddie Bennett executing in the pitcher’s circle, allowing just two hits and a single unearned run, all Mt. Hebron (2-1, 2-1) ultimately needed though were those couple clutch hits.
“I went up there thinking ‘no more pop ups.’ We needed to get some runs because (Maddie) was doing so much work for us to keep them from scoring,” Montague-Bass said. “We were doing a good job of putting the ball in play and that’s kind of what our mentality is … get it in play and something good is eventually going to happen.”
The loss was the first defeat in county play for the Gladiators this season and actually snapped a winning streak of more than 20 games against league competition for Glenelg (2-1, 2-2) dating back to the 2012 season.
With Colleen Regan pitching a solid game on Tuesday, the Gladiators certainly had a chance to keep its streak going. There simply wasn’t enough offense to pull out a come-from-behind victory.
“It’s hard to lose those one-run games, but we came out on top of a lot of those 2-1, 3-2 games last year,” Glenelg coach Ray Gerstner said. “So now it becomes how we bounce back tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. We have four (games) in a row this week.
“With that kind of turnaround, you have to wipe it clean and get ready to start anew.”
If the weather cooperates, all 12 of the county’s public school teams are slated to play four games in four days between Tuesday and Friday.
Bennett was a star on the rubber for Mt. Hebron on Tuesday, but ironically enough wasn’t even supposed to be the Vikings’ pitcher going into the game. Scheduled starter Evvie Buehlman was hit in the head by a ball, though, before even throwing a pitch and Bennett was called in to replace her.
She proceeded to move the ball in the strike zone, hit her spots and induce lots of ground balls that her infielders gobbled up and turned into outs.
“I don’t throw as hard as a lot of the other girls, so my goal is to hit the corners. And I feel like I have enough breaking pitches and off-speed (pitches) that I almost want them to hit the ball because I know my defense is going to make the plays,” Bennett said.
After two scoreless innings to open the game, Mt. Hebron struck first on Kinsella’s bomb to left. It was the third home run in three games this spring for Kinsella, who has provided instant offense this season for the Vikings.
“Usually when I go up there, I just try to stay calm and relaxed and swing away,” Kinsella said. “I’m on a hot streak I guess right now … some days it’s off and some days it’s on. I’d say it’s on right now.”
That initial lead was short-lived, however, as Glenelg got on the board in the bottom of the third. Sharon Mielke led off with a walk and then later came around to score on a throwing error.
The game stayed tied until the fifth, where Molly Bishop got things started for Mt. Hebron with a walk. After a fielder’s choice, a walk and a strikeout, Montague-Bass stepped to the plate with two outs and delivered.
Glenelg’s best chance to pull back into a tie was in the bottom of the fifth, putting runners on second and third with one out. But the potential tying run was gunned down at the plate on a ground ball in the infield.
Over the final two innings, Bennett allowed just one base runner.
Mt. Hebron 2, Glenelg 1