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Eagles stay calm to storm off with opening victory

Bob Hough

If Northeast's Jenna Matulonis was nervous in the bottom of the seventh inning of Saturday's game with Mount Hebron, she sure didn't show it.

Matulonis recorded a strikeout and a weak ground out with the tying runs in scoring position to help the Eagles hang on for a 7-5 victory over Mount Hebron at the District V Showcase at Bachman Park.

Northeast (1-0) had a 7-2 lead heading to the bottom of the seventh, but the Vikings scored three runs and had runners on second and third with one out before Matulonis got out of the jam to end the game.

"It was nerve-racking," said Matulonis, who also singled in a run to help her cause. "I didn't expect to get the strikeout. I was just trying to get a ground ball because I knew my defense had my back."

Evelyn Buehlman led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run to make it 7-3, then the Vikings' next three hitters reached to load the bases with none out. Northeast's Kirsten Midkiff forced out a runner at home for the first out, then after a single by Stephanie Bluhm scored a pair of runs with the runners advancing to second and third, Matulonis struck out Eliza Munns looking and got Rachel Veslany to ground out to Christina Jordon to end the game.

"She's got heart," Northeast coach Joe Hart said. "Nothing bothers her. She's relaxed, has confidence in her teammates and her teammates have confidence in her."

Coral Dittmar drove in a pair of runs, including one on a double to open the scoring in the top of the first. The Eagles scored another run on a wild pitch, then added two runs without the benefit of a hit to go up, 4-0, in the second. Mount Hebron (2-1) committed three errors in the inning to help Northeast take the four-run lead.

Dittmar's second RBI came in the top of the sixth on a single that scored Hailey Lewis to give Northeast a seemingly comfortable 7-2 lead.

"Coral Dittmar is one of the better hitters in the county," Hart said. "I had confidence in her, and she came through."

With temporary fences put in for Saturday's Showcase, Mount Hebron cut into the lead in the third with Rylee Kinsella's two-run home run for the Vikings' first hit. After Bluhm's home run to lead of the seventh, Kinsella sent a deep drive to left field that had home run distance, but was just foul.

"They were hitting home runs and I was scared that I would slip one up the middle and it would just go," Matulonis said.

Saturday's victory helped the Eagles avenge a loss to the Vikings at last year's District V Spring Break Tournament that was part of a rare three-game losing streak. Northeast will play Eastern Tech and Century on Saturday at this year's District V Spring Break Tournament.

"They all showed me a lot today," Hart said. "I told everybody that when I came into this game today I was still looking at my team and I still want to see what I have."

Matulonis struck out seven and Maria Weddle and Jordon each drove in runs for the Eagles, who will open county play on Wednesday against South River.

Northeast (1-0)2200210-750Mount Hebron (2-1)0020003-583

WP: Matulonis (1-0). LP: Buehlman. 2B: NE – Dittmar. HR: MH – Kinsella, Buehlman. RBI: NE – Dittmar 2, Weddle, Matulonis, Jordon; MH – Kinsella 2, Bluhm, Buehlman.

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