When the thunder started in the middle of the fourth inning Friday postponing the Class 3A East region championship game between Glenelg and Northeast-AA to Saturday, Eagles coach Joe Hart was afraid his team wouldn’t bring the same intensity that got them a 5-1 lead.
“It’s hard,” Hart said. “I asked them when we left here yesterday to get a good night’s sleep because we’ve got a mission we’ve got to go on, and they all did what we asked of them when they showed up today. We had that intensity yesterday and I was worried, was that going to come back today? And it was here. They brought it.”
Northeast didn’t miss a beat, as it took about 40 minutes to add eight more runs in the next two innings to close out a 13-1 victory over the Gladiators.
“I am just proud of them,” Hart said. “Jenna [Matulonis] pitched a great game.”
Matulonis went a full five innings and allowed seven hits and a walk, while striking out two to earn the win for the Eagles.
Glenelg, which defeated Reservoir, 14-13 in eight-innings Wednesday, grabbed the early one-run advantage in the top of the first inning.
“They beat some good teams,” Hart said of the Gladiators. “Howard is a good program and I saw that they beat Howard. Then their section final it must’ve been a battle, you know 14-13. I thought, ‘My lord, we’ve got a pretty good offensive team coming our way, so let’s not just talk about it. Let’s take it one game at a time and not take anybody lightly.'”
Katie Dustin and Katie McIntyre got Glenelg started with back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Amy Stetser then hit in Dustin two batters later with an RBI single, but the Eagles limited the damage there after picking off Dustin at third base.
“Just [needed to] execute a couple more times around the bases,” said Gladiators coach Ray Gerstner. “We had three or four really close plays yesterday and today, and that makes a difference when you’re trading outs for potential runs on the bases. That is a big part of it.”
Northeast’s defense was also a difference in the game. In the second inning, the Eagles picked off Dustin at second base and then made another play at home to throw out Amy Stetser to preserve the seven-run lead heading into the top of the fourth inning.
“We work on throwing the ball around all the time,” Hart said. “They play catch in the infield and I’ll scream out a base and they’ve got to throw it. We just work on it all the time and it pays off. They’re not shocked by anything. They work hard. We work on defense a lot.”
Northeast got on the board in the top of the second after an RBI double by Melanie Kral platted Christina Jordan, who led off the inning with a walk.
Sarah Gordon then gave the Eagles the lead after knocking a base hit through the infield to score Kral.
They added on in the third inning after Maria Weddle and Matulonis led off with back-to-back hits to get on with no outs. Veronica Hampton stepped to the plate and knocked them both in with a single.
Jordan and Alex Brengle each registered a hit to load the bases for Kral, who platted Hampton with a sacrifice ground out, bringing the lead to 5-1.
The storm clouds rolled through after Glenelg got one out in the fourth inning. The thunder continued until about 7 p.m., forcing the umpires to postpone the game until Saturday at 11 a.m.
The Eagles made the bus trip back and picked up where they left off.
Weddle earned a walk to start the outing and was later batted in with an RBI double by Matulonis, who was then hit in a batter later by Jordan to extend the lead, 7-1.
Stetser and Madi Wingert led off the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back hits, but Northeast didn’t allow any runs to cross.
The Eagles began the fifth with three consecutive hits to load the bases. KK Midkiff picked up an RBI on a walk and Weddle platted two more after finding the gap in left center. Jordan collected an RBI on a sacrifice fly ball, Brengle added another RBI hit a batter later and then Hailey Lewis stepped up to pinch hit and knocked an RBI single to bring the score to 13-1.
Matulonis went back to work in the circle in the botttom of the inning and retired the side in order to solidify the Eagles’ second-straight region championship.
“They want it. They all want it,” Hart said. “They’re doing great. They’re a great team.”
Katie Dusin, who was unable to play Saturday due to an injury suffered Friday, led the Gladiators at the plate, going 2-for-2. Stetser also went 2-for-2 with an RBI, while McIntyre, Wingert and Molly Dustin also registered a hit for Glenelg.
“She is a battler, but she was still right in [the dugout] still battling,” Gerstner said of his starting catcher, Katie Dustin. “We still had the voice and that is what counts. Her and then the next girl and the next girl, it is a team and that is what we’re focused on.”
The Gladiators, who clinched a share of the Howard County championship this season, finishes the year at 17-6. Gerstner said he and his group is looking forward to build toward another run at a region championship next spring.
“That is what we always look towards is that final game,” he said. “Always looking to keep going and keep improving.”
Northeast-AA 13, Glenelg 1 (5 Innings)
Ne — 0 2 3 2 6 x x 13 18
G — 1 0 0 0 0 x x 1 7
Pitching: Ne — Matulonis and Midkiff; G — Stetser, Browne (5) and K. Dustin, Turvin (4).
2B: Ne — Matulonis, Kral; G —M. Dustin.