East County Sports

Eagles’ playoff advantage proves decisive against Cougars

Halle Kyler of Granite Hills / Photo by Don De Mars Photography



By Adam Paul
© East County Sports.com

EL CAJON (5-22-16) – In the third meeting between the two teams, the No. 2-seeded Granite Hills Eagles used a mid-inning rally and never looked back as they claimed the 5-3 victory over the visiting No. 6-seeded Steele Canyon Cougars in the CIF Division II second round on Saturday (May 21).

Both teams knew they had to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them as both teams’ aces were in the circle and runs would be hard to come by.

Steele Canyon in the top of the third thought they were going to strike first and take momentum as leadoff hitter ASHLEY TAVIZON (1-3, 2B) blasted a double deep to center field. However, Eagles pitcher HALLE KYLER (1-4, 2 RBI, R, 2B) would have nothing of it as she would retire AUDREY BAGGE (1-3, R), GENTRY HOFFMAN (1-3) and MAKAYLA MCCARTHY (1-4, RBI) all via punch out to end the threat and the inning.

Having escaped a threat in the top of the inning the Eagles looked to do their own thing in the bottom of the third inning.

Leading things off, RILEY AGERBEEK (1-3, RBI, R, HR) worked the count to 2-2 before on the very next offering from McCarthy launched it over the left field fence for the solo shot to give Granite Hills a 1-0 lead and momentum for the time being.

The next batter HAYLEY BUDVARSON (1-2, R) lined a single to left field, Kyler would hit a hard liner to short where it would be caught, CASSIDY SHEW (3-4, RBI) followed by singling to right field giving the Eagles runners at first and second, KAREN CREECH hit into a fielders choice to second where Shew would be out but Budvarson would advance to third base, JESSIE LAPIERRE flew out to center to end the inning.

The momentum created by the Eagles in the bottom of the third didn’t last as the Cougars created their own.

Leadoff-hitter KYLIE MINSHEW (1-4, R) hit a ball to Agerbeek at third but a miscue occurred and Minshew would be safe at first base, MAKAYLA STROMENGER (1-1, R) walked giving the Cougars runners at first and second with no outs.

The next batter JJ VENZOR (RBI) would sacrifice and actually reached on an error which allowed Minshew to advance to third and Stromenger to advance to second and on the play Minshew actually came into score to tie the game at 1-1 and as a result Stromenger advanced to third.

EMMA DODSON hit a ball back to Kyler who fielded it and threw it to first to get the out but not before Venzor advanced to second, HANNAH DUDLEY (RBI) grounded back to Kyler but was safe which allowed Stromenger to come into score to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead and the momentum for the time being.

Now trailing the Eagles looked to get things back in their favor in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Things started off well as leadoff hitter MADISON CALDWELL (1-1, R, 2B) hit a ball to center field for a double, she would advance to third on a passed ball, the batter BRENDA RUSHING would strikeout for the first out of the inning, next up KAYLA MACK (1-3, RBI, R) who would ground to short where it was fielded by SAMANTHA MILLER who threw it home but Caldwell was safe and so was Mack.

Now the score was tied at 2-2 and the Eagles were in business.

Mack would advance to second on the throw and advance to third as Agerbeek grounded out, Budvarson would get on via a hit by pitch. The big blow would come next as Kyler boomed a double deep to center that scored both Mack and Budvarson to give the Eagles a 4-2 lead. Shew would follow by smashing a grounder to center that scored Kyler to round out the scoring at 5-2 and the swing in momentum.

However the Cougars wouldn’t go down without a fight as in the next inning the top of the fifth, leadoff hitter Bagge drew a walk, Hoffman singled to right field, McCarthy blasted a double to right field that scored Bagge and advanced Hoffman to third with no outs.

Steele Canyon was back in business and it looked like they would do more damage.

ELIZABETH BOTT came into run for McCarthy, Minshew grounded to Agerbeek at third who threw her out for the first out, Stromenger walked to load the bases with one out, Venzor would hit the ball back to Kyler who got the out at home but the bases wree still loaded with 2 outs, Dodson would get the third out as she also hit the ball back to Kyler who threw her out at first to end the inning and quash the threat but not before the Cougars scored to make it 5-3.

Granite Hills in the bottom of the fifth would get hits from MORGAN KELLY (1-1) and Mack but both would be stranded as the Cougars got out of the inning.

Kyler would retire Steele Canyon in order 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth inning.

After the Eagles didn’t do anything in the bottom of the sixth inning, the game headed to the seventh and final inning as the Cougars needed to do something.

However, Hoffman would ground out to Shew at short who would throw her out at first, the next batter McCarthy would hit a looping fly ball to right field where KARA BLANCHARD charged in to dive and flip over and make a spectacular catch for the second out of the inning, Minshew singled to center, Stromenger walked to put the tying run on at first. Up stepped Venzor who looked to keep the inning alive, but Kyler would have other ideas and on the 1-2 offering would get her to ground out to Kelly at second who fielded it and threw to first for the final out of the game.

On the day for the Cougars, McCarthy tossed 6 innings giving up 5 runs of which all were earned on 9 hits, walk 1 and strike out 5. On the other side in the victory for the Eagles, Kyler tossed 7 innings, giving up 3 runs, of which only 1 was earned, on 6 hits, walk 4 and fan 4 on the day.

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