TC ELDERSBURG -- What started as a crucial error for Random House wound up costing Danny's Raiders dearly at Springfield State Hospital on Wednesday night.
Random House used a boo-boo-turned-bonanza and a four-run fifth-inning rally to win, 7-4, and take the Carroll County Women's Softball League's postseason tournament title.
Random House's players may have been a little uncertain about their chances earlier in the evening when they took to the field against Danny's in the final winners' bracket game.
After all, their Glen Burnie-based opponents had beaten them three of four times en route to a runaway regular-season league championship.
In a pre-game meeting with his pitchers, Random House manager Jay Stuller noted that Danny's had hit four homers against them in an earlier game.
"We had to keep them from hitting home runs. I talked to the pitchers and told them to keep the ball outside. [Danny's has] a couple of girls who can plant the ball."
The strategy evidently worked, and the hitting wasn't bad, either.
Random House romped 11-1 in the first meeting of the tournament.
That rude treatment wasn't lost on Danny's manager Dawn Esworthy.
"When somebody kicks our butt it's a wake-up call. The girls were really upset," she said.
But she added there also was no doubt in her mind that Danny's could recover and go on to win.
Danny's later topped Plunkert Construction, 11-4, in the final losers' bracket game to get another shot at Random House.
Against Random House, Gina Mast's home run gave Danny's an early 2-1 lead. But Lydia Costas tied it with a homer of her own in the third.
Then, with Random House ahead, 3-2, in the home fourth, shortstop Vicky Taylor made the game's key defensive play.
With Danny's runners on second and third and one out, Taylor momentarily booted a grounder by Betsy Smith and had no play at first.
But she did throw out Alicia Saars, trying to score from third with the tying run.
"That was the big play. It was the best you could have hoped for," said Stuller. "[Taylor's] a smart ballplayer."
His squad put the game away in its next at-bat.
Helped by three Danny's errors, Random House scored four times to go ahead 7-2, as Beth Berry, Robin Farinholt and Costas drove in runs.
Compounding its rough defensive inning, Danny's continued to err on the bases in the home fifth. There, Wendy Good, who could have played it safe at third with two outs and her team five runs down, was thrown out at the plate trying to score on an outfield error.
"We've never run the bases as badly as we did tonight," said Esworthy.
Her team brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the seventh after Debbie Ellis' homer had narrowed the gap to 7-4. But the final two batters popped out.
"We fell a little short tonight but we've still had a good season," said Esworthy, whose team won the U.S. Slo-Pitch Softball Association's women's Class D state championship several weeks ago and will play in the association's regional tournament Labor Day weekend.
"I warned them about overconfidence because I knew Danny's would hit."
On this particular night though, Danny's didn't.
:. "It felt good to beat them," Stuller said.