May 19, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Solvay’s softball team was not in a sharing mood Friday afternoon.
With a chance to snatch the outright OHSL Liberty division regular-season championship in Friday’s showdown against Homer, the Bearcats seized it, combining offensive opportunity with defensive efficiency to beat the Trojans 5-0.
Going in, the math was rather simple. A Solvay victory meant the league title, but a defeat would bring a tie between the Bearcats and Trojans – and Homer would have bragging rights because it beat Solvay 5-3 back on April 17.
That first game saw Solvay throw away runs due to defensive mistakes. Right from the start, the rematch was a different tale.
After Katie Sinclair led off with a single, Nikea Ulrich hit it right back to pitcher Jackie Gardner, whose snap throw to first forced out Sinclair, too, for a double play, halting the Trojans’ first threat.
The Bearcats stranded two in the bottom of the first, but it proved different in the second. Nicole Groth and Sydney Cimini both reached base on Trojan errors, putting Groth and courtesy runner Shannen Sullivan (back from a bout with mononucleosis) on second and third with one out.
Brenna Poli popped out, but Nicole Antonacci did not, doubling down the left-field line to score Groth and Sullivan. Then, after Taylor Guinta drew a walk, Chelsie Delperuto tripled into the gap, allowing Antonacci and Guinta to race home and make it 4-0.
Jackie Gardner’s biggest crisis came in the third. With two out, Homer loaded the bases, but Gardner threw a called strike three past Kelsey Root, ending the threat and maintaining the shutout.
Then Solvay’s defense really took over. Groth and Delperuto both made terrific catches in the outfield in the fourth, and Julie Gardner snatched a line drive and turned it into another double play in the fifth. Gardner also drove Delperuto home for the game’s last run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth.
Grout finished the game by running down another long fly ball in the seventh, wrapping up Jackie Gardner’s complete game. Quick and efficient in the pitcher’s circle, Gardner only allowed four hits and recorded five strikeouts.
As this went on, Solvay’s baseball team decided the other OHSL Liberty race – but in a different manner – through a 4-3 victory over Homer. The win allowed the Bearcats’ neighbors from Westhill to claim the outright league title.
A trio of first-inning runs put the Bearcats in control, but it needed another run in the fourth, set up by Forrest Gilbert’s triple, to stay in front. Dan Fantacone, pitching on three days’ rest, went 4 1/3 innings before tiring in the fifth, forcing Solvay to go to John Savo in relief.
Savo loaded the bases with a walk, but got out of it with when Sully Hardnett grounded out. Only one more Homer runner reached base as Savo worked the sixth and seventh innings without allowing a hit for a hard-earned save.
The win clinched for Solvay a winning record for 2012, as it goes into the Class B playoffs with an 11-9 mark.