LAGRANGE — Just call them the Cardiac ’Cats.
Keystone did Tuesday what it has done all season — win in come-from-behind fashion.
The Wildcats (20-3) overcame a three-run deficit with a pair of unearned runs in both the fifth and six innings to pull out a 5-4 win over Brooklyn and Ball State recruit Jocelyn Rivera at LaGrange Community Park.
“This has been the story of this team,” Keystone coach Jim Piazza said. “This is how they do it. The girls feel comfortable doing it that way. I don’t understand why, but that’s what they do.”
It looked bleak for Keystone after Brooklyn (10-6, 8-3) pushed across four runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. To that point, Rivera had retired 10 batters in a row and given up just one hit, a first-inning RBI single to Nicole Neri.
Instead of being dejected, Keystone came out determined to make something happen. In the fifth, Brittany Bowers reached base on an error and promptly stole second and third, and Melissa Knepper walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch to set the stage for freshman catcher Destiny Weber.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Weber lined a 3-2 pitch into right field to drive in two runs and cut the Hurricanes’ lead to one.
“Jocelyn is a tremendous pitcher so we knew we had to make some adjustments the second time through the lineups,” Weber said.
“This is a team that has total trust in each other and in our coaching staff, so we know we can always come back no matter what the score is.”
Starting pitching Emily Cornish retired the Hurricanes in order in the sixth inning and then the fun really began for the Wildcats and their fans on Senior Night.
Sara Lowman reached base on a two-out error and gave way to pinch runner Julie Plas.
With the tying run on first base it was up to center fielder Jenny Schaffer to keep the inning alive. She did that and then some, driving a triple into the alley in right-center to score Plas.
When Rivera’s throw to third bounced over the sliding Schaffer, she was able to jump up and sprint home with what proved to be the game-winning run.
As Schaffer was sliding safely into home, Piazza was busy running two-thirds of the way down the third-base line pumping his fist in jubilation as his team took the lead.
“I knew the pressure was on me,” Schaffer said. “The pitch looked good coming in and I just tried to kill the ball. “Even when we were down, we never stopped believing we were going to win this game.”
Brooklyn threatened in the top of the seventh, getting runners on second and third with one out with Rivera at bat. The senior, who had already been intentionally walked twice, lunged at a pitch while Keystone was attempting to walk her for the third time and hit into a fielder’s choice. Cornish then struck out the final batter to end the game.
“That is a good team we beat today,” Piazza said. “Jocelyn Rivera is one of the best pitchers around, but we were able to make some adjustments late in the game and they really paid off for us.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.