Archive for Thursday, April 6, 2006

Cardinals ride Hamilton’s arm

April 6, 2006

When junior right-hander Brynn Hamilton took the mound for the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday, she knew she would need to go as deep as possible for the Cardinals to get a victory.

She didn't know, however, she would end up pitching the entire afternoon.

Mackenzie Salzman stretches for first in the Cards doubleheader
sweep of Anderson County on Saturday.

Mackenzie Salzman stretches for first in the Cards doubleheader sweep of Anderson County on Saturday.

Hamilton pitched a staggering 18 2/3 innings on Tuesday, as the Cardinals outlasted the Prairie View Buffalos 3-2, 8-7 at Eudora High School.

"I felt really good out there," Hamilton said. "As the games went on, I just felt better and had confidence in my defense."

The junior's amazing effort included a 12-inning marathon effort in game one, where she piled up 15 strikeouts.

"She did a great job out there for us," Eudora coach Cara Kimberlin said. "She was throwing ground balls and making good pitches pretty much all day."

As good as Hamilton's performance was throughout game one, the same could not be said for the Cardinal offense.

Eudora (4-1) struggled to cash in on any opportunities through the first six innings, leaving seven runners on base.

With the offense struggling, it seemed Hamilton's pitching would be for nothing as the Buffalos broke a scoreless tie in the fifth, the result of a Cardinal error.

Prairie View added to its lead in the sixth with another run on consecutive doubles. The 2-0 Buffalo lead seemed, at the time, too much for the Cardinals to come back from.

"We were having some problems laying off the riseball," Kimberlin said. "And we couldn't put the ball on the ground and make things happen."

The Cardinals came to life though, when they really needed it.

In the bottom of the seventh, Eudora mounted a comeback by getting back-to-back singles from junior Caitlyn Riser and senior Michelle Deluna. A passed ball put both runners in scoring position, before a ground ball by senior Laura Williams was thrown into foul territory by the Buffalo third baseman, scoring Deluna and Riser.

The Buffalo misfortune turned into a 2-2 tie going into extra innings.

After four-and-a-half scoreless innings, Williams led off the 12th with a walk and then promptly stole second base. The aggressive base running led to a Kelsey Epperson bunt and second error on the Prairie View third baseman. The fielder's second errant throw allowed Williams to come home with the winning run.

"I'm glad to see us not quit," Kimberlin said. "But I'd rather us not be in that situation to begin with."

Senior left-hander Karen Spence took the mound for game two, but was greeted by some Buffalo bats ready to redeem themselves. The visitors roughed up Spence for three runs in just a third of an inning.

"It was clear that Karen just didn't have it," Kimberlin said. "So at that moment, I just went back to Brynn."

Hamilton took over for Spence and guided the Cardinals out of the first inning with no further damage.

"Before the second game I told coach I could go in the second game," Hamilton said. "So she said she wanted to see how Karen did. Then she gave me the ball and I was ready."

The Cardinals got two of the runs back in the first and second innings, before defensive mis-steps led to two more runs by the Buffalos in the third and fourth.

Prairie View added more pressure to the Cardinals by extending its lead to 7-3 in the sixth inning.

The four-run lead however didn't deter the Cardinals, as they proceeded to score five runs in the bottom of the sixth behind six hits, including a double by Hamilton.

The Cardinals capped off the comeback by retiring the Buffalos in order in the seventh to secure the win.

The sweep was just the kind of momentum the Cardinals needed going into Thursday's game against Spring Hill.

"It feels much better going into the Spring Hill game with these wins than it would have been being .500," Kimberlin said. "We can't get behind against a team like them and expect to come back."

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