AVON — Through no fault of her own, Elyria’s Elizabeth Ellis lost a perfect game and a shutout in the fourth inning Thursday night.
And through no fault of her own, Avon’s Hannah Boesger lost her shutout an inning later.
The bottom-line difference was Elyria’s 11- and 12-year-old Little League softball
all-stars came from behind to post a 4-2 victory, largely on the strength of three unearned runs in the fifth.
With the victory, Elyria avenged a 3-2 Friday night loss to Avon and stayed alive in district tournament play at Veterans Memorial Park. Avon, which dropped a Tuesday night decision at Tallmadge, was eliminated.
Elyria moved on to a 6 p.m. Saturday showdown at Tallmadge, which is unbeaten in the double-elimination tourney. The Elyrians need to beat Tallmadge twice to advance to the state tournament. A Saturday win would put the district final back in Elyria’s Vic Janowicz Memorial Park at 6 p.m. Monday.
“This was a good game that came down to we put the ball in play and made the plays when it counted,” said Elyria manager Mike Ellis. “We knew coming in it would be a tough game because we’ve played Avon over the years and it’s always been close. They beat us Friday in a game that was just the opposite. They made the plays and we didn’t.”
Elizabeth Ellis, the Elyria right-hander, retired the first 10 batters. But with one out in the fourth inning, Avon first baseman Josie Carandang bunted. It was a well-placed bunt that the Elyria infield then airmailed to the Elyria outfield and the Elyria outfield airmailed back to the fence on the third base side of the plate.
Meantime, Carandang circled the bases and motored on home for a 1-0 Avon lead. For a short time, it looked as though it might hold up.
But Elyria catcher Leia Peffer led off the fifth with a walk. Leigha Donaghue followed with a nice sacrifice bunt and Peffer alertly ran all the way to third, which was left unprotected. Kaylee Hummerick followed with a bunt single, while Peffer held third, then stole second.
When shortstop Dierra Hammons also bunted, the Avon defense threw the ball away and Peffer and Hummerich scored for a 2-1 Elyria lead.
“I got the bunt sign and I bunted,” Hammons said. “Two of our players went home and no one was covering, so I went to second.”
As she said, Hammons took second on the play and scored when Ellis drilled her second single of the night into left field. She was the only player on either team with more than one hit.
“I was relaxed up there because we played them Friday night and I hit her (Boesger),” said Ellis, who also had two hits in Elyria’s 3-2 loss.
In the circle, Ellis seemed to get stronger as the game progressed.
“As the nerves work out, that’s when I get better,” said Ellis. “I throw a fastball, two changes and a dropball. My inside fastball was working tonight. He (the plate umpire) was calling it until the end of the game.”
Elyria added a run in the sixth after center fielder Ashley Olszewski led off with a single, alertly ran to third on Megan Janowicz’s sacrifice, then scored on Leigha Donaghue’s sharp single to center. Avon added a second run in the bottom of the sixth when Carandang, who had singled, scored on Olivia Kula’s single to left.
“It was a pitchers duel,” said Avon manager Todd Austinson, “but we made the last mistake and it cost us. We were keeping them off (the bases) for most of the game, but once they started getting on and playing ‘small ball’ it hurt. They’re a smart team and they know how to do it.”
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