When the sun came back, so did Glen Burnie.
The top-seeded Gophers endured a stormy top of the fourth inning to rally against No. 4 Arundel, 7-6, in a Class 4A East Region Section I semifinal.
Glen Burnie advances to face the winner of Tuesday’s other semifinal between North County and Severna Park, squads the Gophers have defeated this spring.
Catcher Brooke McCormick and first baseman Katie Gouty commanded the offensive effort, each batting a single and a double, as well as a walk apiece.
“Katie’s a good hitter, slumped a little last year but picking it back when we need her this year,” Glen Burnie coach Dave Sauble said. “I don’t care what they do [before] – this is when I need them strong, and they’re doing it.”
For Gouty’s double, she had been certain it was a goner. Still, her fence-reaching hit brought the first three runs of the game home for the Gophers (16-3) as it started pouring, which makes sense, considering the hosts made T-shirts that read “Make it Rain.”
“It brought everyone’s mood up, to know we’ve got this game and we just gotta keep hitting,” Gouty said. “Once one person hits, it’s just a chain and everyone goes down and hits.”
But Arundel planned for a long inning. Gretchen Yanss walked to begin a frame in which the bases filled, allowing two runners to walk home, and Kaitlyn Penny cracked a triple that plated three and then went home herself on a fielding error.
“She’s definitely a player that wants to be in a key situation, wants the win, wants to do well,” Wildcats coach Lisa Mills said. “I’m very happy for her, to have that moment.”
As quickly as it came, the Gophers’ advantage washed away, leaving them down 6-3.
But Wynter Radcliffe swallowed it. Then, after seeing what her teammates did for her next, she even smiled as she walked to the circle in the next inning.
It was paramount that the Gophers, well-skilled in the art of dugout-rattling cheers, keep pumping energy out to their pitcher as she struggled on the rubber.
“To back her up. Every hit that was hit, we needed to make the out. If Wynter’s having an off inning, we have to make up for it,” McCormick said. “We know if they put up six runs in one inning, we know we can come back and put up some more.”
As much as they did it with their voices, Glen Burnie showed their support through their bats. Lillian Cook reached on a bunt single, which Jordan Fangman followed with a single of her own and McCormick took a fourth ball to juice the bases.
The second pitch to Shaianne Turner skittered to the backstop, bringing a run in. On the next one, Turner socked an RBI double.
One run separated the two squads. Two passed balls brought them together and apart again.
The first ball Wildcats hurler Madison Gentry (nine strikeouts) tossed to Gouty slipped behind, allowing another Gopher to score. Then, on the final pitch, yet another run – the go-ahead run – came in on the slip.
“It wasn’t the rain,” Mills said. “It was a lot of emotions. That was more of a factor than the rain.”
Radcliffe had regained her early-game control when she faced the Wildcats (11-9) again. Other than a base hit from Skylar Morley, the Gophers ace closed Arundel down without much damage suffered.
In the next frame, left fielder Madison Miller (3 for 4) and Gentry fought to deliver the Wildcats a comeback, too, each putting balls in play to secure two baserunners.
But the outfielders held down the fort, tallying the second and third outs on fly balls.
It was close, however, closer than the Gophers would like going forward. Knowing both Severna Park and North County will likely mount heavy offensives against them, Glen Burnie plans on hitting more.