When his team's record dropped to 0-3 last week, North County first-year coach Brian Love said he began to doubt those who assured him that things eventually would even out.
Yesterday afternoon, the scale finally tipped in favor of the Knights.
A double in the seventh inning and a bad hop on a routine grounder, helped No. 12 North County defeat visiting and No. 11 Old Mill, 3-2.
"All year long we've fallen behind, battled back and then run out of time, so it's nice to finally get the monkey off of our back," said Love. "Today, we took the lead and we made defensive plays that we didn't make in the first three games."
In the first inning, North County catcher T.C. Horney caught a pop-up, threw out a runner trying to steal second and then hit a lead-off homer to put the Knights ahead 1-0.
Old Mill (2-2) tied the game in the third when Dawn Faulkner singled in Laura Newcomb, who had reached on an error.
Horney, who went 3-for-4, opened the third inning with a bunt single, stole second and scored on Jessica Gibson's single to left to put the Knights out front again, 2-1.
The Patriots, whose only otherloss came at the hands of No. 3 ranked Chesapeake,tied the game at 2 in the fourth inning that saw Old Mill hit four straight singles.
Cindy Dennsteadt got the two-out rally started with a bloop single. Kerri Smith moved Dennsteadt to second and Holly Shaffer drove her in.
After loading the bases with one out in the sixth, North County pitcher Jamie Yewell, who struck out seven, fielded a grounder and threw home for the force. Horney fired the ball to first to complete the inning-ending double play.
North County (1-3) nearly regained the lead in the sixth, but Shaffer robbed Horney of an extra-base hit with a diving catch in right.
Old Mill threatened in the top of the seventh and had runners on first and third but a heads-up play by second baseman Michelle Clark enabled the Knights to escape unscathed. On the pivotal play, Dennsteadt hit a sharp grounder that caromed off of Yewell's glove. Clark quickly grabbed it and got it to first in time for the final out.
Gibson's double -- which many Old Mill fans thought was foul -- gave the Knights a runner in scoring position with one out. A sharp grounder off the bat of Amy Ray took a weird bounce and went under the glove of the second baseman, allowing Gibson to score the game-winner.
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