WINTERSVILLE - Buckeye 8 and Ohio Valley Athletic Conference rivals Buckeye Local and Indian Creek followed up Monday's 13-inning, 4-3 Panthers win with another down-to-the-wire match up Wednesday at Bantam Ridge Elementary.
Though this one didn't go into extra frames, the Panthers again came away victorious, claiming an 8-5 decision.
"This win is real big," said Buckeye Local head coach Joe Soos. "There are some classy teams in our conference, and I've been saying it all year that one bounce of a ball can make all the difference in the world.
FINISHING THE GAME — Buckeye Local third baseman Karlee Leonard tags out Indian Creek’s Ashley Starr for the second out of a game-ending double play during the Panthers 8-5 win at Bantam Ridge Field Wednesday. Pitcher Ivy Starcher caught up a pop up for the first half of the play.
-- Fred Younce
"We could play them 10 more times and they might win 10 times. I don't know."
Defensive plays keyed the Buckeye victory as the Redskins' inability to make them swung the lead to the visitors favor while the Panthers ability to make a big one closed out the game.
In the top of the sixth with the score at 5-5 and Panthers at first and second with two outs, Dana Bettineschi grounded to second for what appeared to be the inning's final out. Second baseman Mallorie Sullivan fielded the ball and attempted to tag out Aliyah Morelli, who was on first, but the ball popped out of her glove on the tag and everyone was safe to load the bases.
The next batter, Karlee Leonard, then put the ball in play, but shortstop Paige DeMattio was unable to make the play allowing Sydney Omaits and Morelli to score. Kierstyn Czurchan then singled in Bettineschi and the Panthers led 8-4.
"We had two outs," said Indian Creek head coach Angie Penner. "Our defense has to play better because in the last two or three games our errors are killing us. I've said it before.
"Until we minimize our mistakes we're going to be battling."
After the teams exchanged goose eggs in the bottom of the sixth and top of the seventh Indian Creek came up with one last shot to catch the Panthers.
With one out, Ashley Starr got things rolling with a single. DeMattio and Paige Geanangel followed Starr with singles to load the bases. Panthers' pitcher Ivy Starcher forced the next batter, Keasha Barz, to pop up. Starcher made the catch and then threw to third where Starr was caught off base and Leonard applied the tag for the final out and an 8-5 Buckeye Local win.
"It's huge and she (Starcher) is only a sophomore," said Soos. "I can't be more pleased with all of them. Everyone contributed the way they needed to contribute to get it done in games like this.
"I'm elated. I really am. That's a big win for us. It really helps us with our OVAC chances. Indian Creek carries a lot of points.
"We're just tickled to death with the win."
Indian Creek led 4-1 at after two innings and picked up all five runs in the first three frames.
A first inning Starr single drove in Brey Mays, who reached on a double, and Starr was later driven in by a Barz single. In the second, a Mays single brought home Abby Orr and Ashley Shimko drove Mays in. The Redskins third-inning run came on a home run by Geanangel.
"Our kids hung in there," said Soos. "We made some mental mistakes early, but they fought back and got it done. I have to give the credit to the team in blue today. They got it done.
"That's not taking anything away from Indian Creek because they're a really good team."
The Panthers picked up their first run of the game on a Czurchan second inning home run. A two-run double by Leonard in the third plated Bettineschi and Taryn Tonkovich. In the fourth Tori Nest blasted a solo shot and in the fifth Czurchan tied the game at 5 with a single that sent home Tonkovich.
Starcher picked up the win for Buckeye going the distance and striking out four with five earned runs.
Starr started in the circle for Indian Creek, giving up five runs, with Geanangel entering in the fifth and being saddled with the loss despite only none of the three runs charged to her being earned.
A telling stat in the game is Buckeye Local had no errors while Indian Creek committed six.
"I just think we need to stop hurting ourselves," said Penner. "I give Buckeye credit, they hit the ball today, but I do believe we beat ourselves with defensive errors. We're always in the game or ahead and our mistakes kill us. I'm always proud of our kids. They don't quite. They really don't quit.
"They're believers and nobody makes a mistake on purpose, but we have reduce our errors."
Indian Creek (13-4) is at Big Red today with Buckeye Local (13-6) hosting Union Local Friday.
"I feel like we're on a roller coaster so every game, whether it's a rival or not, is big," said Penner. "Just to get back on the right track is important. Especially coming up on tournament time.
"Every thing we do is to prepare for tournaments."
Buckeye Local 8, Indian Creek 5
Buckeye Local 012 113 0 - 8 11 0
Indian Creek 221 000 0 - 5 12 6
BUCKEYE LOCAL (13-6): Starcher (WP, 4K, 2BB) and Nest. Morelli 2s, r; Tonkavich 3s, 2r; Bettineschi 2r; Leonard d, 2rbi; Czuchran hr, 2s, 3rbi, r; Nest hr, rbi; Decesare s; Omaits r.
INDIAN CREEK (13-4): Starr (2K, 1BB), Geanangel (LP, 5th, 3K, 1BB) and Orr. Mays d, s, rbi, 2r; Shimko s, rbi; Starr d, 2s, rbi, r; DeMattio s; Geanangel hr, s, rbi, r; Barz s, rbi; Orr d, r; Markja s.