Patterson hands Western first loss, 4-3 Doves stumble, give up 3 in 6th


Western pitcher Tracy Gruzs must have felt as if she had gone from The Zone to "The Twilight Zone" yesterday.

After the first five innings, she had a three-run lead and had limited host Patterson to just two hits with eight strikeouts.

But Gruzs gave up three unearned runs in a nightmarish sixth inning and Patterson went on to hand the Doves their first loss of the season, 4-3, in eight innings.

The Clippers had just two hits in the sixth, but benefited from three errors, a wild pitch, a walk and a stolen base.

In the bottom of the eighth, Ruth Kaitis's two-out RBI single scored Tracey Conner, who had singled and stolen second and third, to win it. Kaitis went 3-for-4 with an RBI.

The game had no bearing on the City-Wide 4A-2A Division standings. Western (13-1, 11-1) had already clinched the division title and the Clippers (11-5, 11-2) had already secured second place. The Doves will play host to meet 3A-1A Division winner Southern in the City-Wide championship game on Tuesday.

Yesterday's win did serve as a much-needed confidence-booster for the Clippers, who had committed 19 errors in two losses earlier this week.

"I knew we weren't that bad of a team," Patterson coach Derek Maki said. "We came out focused today. This is our best game."

Until the sixth, however, Patterson's best wasn't good enough. Then Maki gathered his team for a pep talk before the Clippers batted.

"I told them that we had two chances and they had one," he said. "We have the home field advantage and we have to put the pressure on them. All season we've been doing a lot of bunts and steals. Being aggressive . . . that's what won it for us."

Mandy Ryan singled to start the inning and went to second on Kyndra Bolden's throwing error. Ryan moved to third on a wild pitch and Gruzs then committed an error trying to field Shannon Delaney's bunt. After Delaney stole second, Western third baseman Heather Campbell couldn't handle Carol Deardorff's bunt to load the bases.

Conner's sacrifice fly to right scored Ryan with the Clippers' first run. After Jaime Locklear walked to again load the bases, Delaney scored on Kaitis' fielder's choice and Kelly Arnold's RBI single scored Deardorff to tie it.

Although the Doves failed in their bid for an undefeated season, Gruzs said the loss will benefit the team in the forthcoming Class 4A, Region II playoffs.

"We have a lot of players who have never played organized ball before, so this year's been pretty easy for us in the sense that we've won every game," she said. "I think we needed a game like this to learn from our mistakes. We're going to be facing much greater competition next week, and to lose this one lets us know that we can be beaten."

Western had taken a 2-0 lead in the third on an RBI single by Kim Aviles and a run-scoring wild pitch. The Doves added a run in the fifth on Rachel Pederson's RBI single.

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