Glenelg softball

Sharon Mielke (right) and the Glenelg defense, seen here in this file photo from earlier this season, delivered several big plays on Thursday to help the Gladiators defeat Atholton in eight innings. (File photo by Nate Pesce / April 11, 2014)

In the eighth inning of a game that had developed into an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel, Glenelg reverted to a little small ball to get the job done Thursday against Atholton.

With Brittney Everett starting on second base under the international tie-breaker rules, Sharon Mielke bunted her over and then Faith Kujawa drove her in with a fly ball to the outfield that ended up being misplayed. Kujawa later came around to score an insurance tally on an errant throw and those two runs turned out to be the difference in a 3-1 Gladiators’ victory on the road.

“To be honest, you just didn’t know when those runs were come … you start looking for something, anything to provide a spark. You get to a point where you have to simply find ways to move runners,” Glenelg coach Ray Gerstner said. “Even in that eighth inning we had to scratch and claw to get those runs, and I still didn’t know if two runs was going to be enough with the way Atholton can hit the ball.

“But these are the games where you just have to find a way and we got some tremendous defensive plays today.”

Atholton (5-2, 6-3) had a terrific chance to answer Glenelg (6-2, 6-3) in the bottom half of the eighth after loading the bases with no outs. But a fielder’s choice forced an out at home and then the Gladiators’ centerfielder Breanne Smith caught a fly ball and gunned the tagging runner out at home for a game-ending double play.

The clutch defensive plays for Glenelg came on the heels of a seventh inning where the team had also escaped a potential jam — leadoff single by Atholton’s Allison Orlosky — with another inning-ending double play.

“If they didn’t make those plays, it would have been a completely different game … they really came through and did great behind me when the game was on the line,” Glenelg pitcher Coleen Regan said.

Regan and Atholton’s Alex Herschman had gone toe-to-toe on the pitching rubber all afternoon. After each pitcher allowed a run in the first inning, the duo held the opposing offense in check over the next six frames.

A strong wind blowing in from the outfield was holding the ball up and allowing the two defenses to make big putouts. And Regan and Herschman did the rest by avoiding walks (combined one on the day) and limiting consecutive hits.

“The third or fourth inning, after both teams had already popped out like 10 times, I told the girls the game was going to come to whoever keeps the most balls down on the ground,” Gerstner said. “The wind today, with the way those two pitchers were battling, there just wasn’t going to be a lot of hits in the air to the outfield.”

Glenelg ended up getting multi-hit days from Breanne Smith, Grace Daigle, Brooke Redmond and Alison Piwowarski. Atholton, meanwhile, got a 2-3 day from Gina D’Asto, who ended up scoring the team’s lone run after leading off the game with a single.

Amanda Petersen also added a two-hit day in the losing effort.

Glenelg 3, Atholton 1

            123 456 78      R-H-E

G         100 000 02      3-9-2

A         100 000 00      1-7-2

Other scores:

Centennial 6, Howard 3

In one of the season’s biggest upsets thus far, the Eagles got a stellar game from pitcher Emily Bowman (10 strikeouts, two walks) and handed previously undefeated Howard its first loss of the spring.

Offensively, Centennial made the most of its seven hits. The big inning was the third, where the Eagles got a lead off single from Camryn Allen, followed by a SAC bunt from Jordan Burk (1-3, run) and a walk for Bowman. Then Emily Allen singled up the middle to plate one run and then Josefine Jensen followed with a triple to score two more.