New London rallies past Cardinal in seventh
ELDON — Cardinal put itself in good position for a win, but visiting New London got the hitting bug just in the nick of time Tuesday.
After scoring four runs in the first six innings of the Southeast Iowa Super Conference South softball game, the Tiger bats exploded for a five-run seventh to claim a 9-8 victory in Eldon.
“Our bats came together tonight, and it’s contagious. We’ve talked about that,” said New London coach Duane Blint. “We’ve been looking for those key hits all season long.”
The Tigers (9-5, 4-2 SEISC South) certainly got the key hits at the best possible time.
After surrendering a 5-4 lead to Cardinal in the bottom of the sixth inning, New London’s Josten Boyer opened the seventh with a single, and Sarah Holtkamp bunted home pitch runner Dani Holt to tie the game up. Facing a full count and one out, Morgan Christner smacked a two-run single to take a 7-5 lead, and New London tacked on two more runs with RBI-singles by Victoria Noel and Emma Pry.
Cardinal responded with a big seventh inning of its own, but it wasn’t big enough as New London held the Comets to three more runs in the final frame.
Cardinal’s Delaney Ridgway singled home two runs in the seventh, and the freshman came around to score on a New London throwing error — one of the visitors’ two in the inning. But with two outs and a runner on second base, New London starter Christner got the final out to preserve the one-run win.
Blint said the late-game mistakes only served to help New London going forward.
“We made some mistakes. The nerves are running a little high because it’s such a high-intensity game, but we feel we actually grew up tonight as a team,” said Blint. “We needed a game like this. We really did.”
The 9-8 outcome surprised both coaches in the two teams’ first meeting.
“If you’d have told me the game was going to be 9-8 by the time it was over, I would’ve bet the farm on that. I would’ve thought 2-1 or 1-0 would win this game,” said Cardinal coach Jerald Harter.
Blint added, “We felt we’d have a low scoring game because we both have pretty good pitching. The teams have two good freshmen [pitchers], and in the years to come this may turn into a little bit of a rivalry because both teams are pretty young.”
The Comets will get another shot at the Tigers when they play again July 1 in New London.
Earlier in the game, New London scored first in the fourth inning when Kristen Allen plated a run on a fielder’s choice. Cardinal came right back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth, capped by an RBI-single by Lexi Fullenkamp to score Alexis Adam. New London answered with a three-run sixth inning before Cardinal again rallied with a two-run home run by Lindsey Davis in the sixth.
Harter gave credit to New London for battling back each time it trailed.
“We had a 3-1 lead and a 5-4 lead, and both times they answered back hard,” said Harter. “Their bats were pretty good tonight. Their whole lineup seemed potent, and even their bottom of the lineup did some damage.”
New London’s No. 5 hitter Noel provided two RBI and No. 6 Jorgi Krieger went 2-for-4 with a double. From the seven-hole, Pry was 3-for-4 with one RBI.
“We’ve had production at the top of the lineup, and tonight we finally got it in the middle and toward the bottom, and that’s where we needed it,” Blint added.
Leadoff hitter Sami Koontz had a double and two runs scored, and Caitlin Chiri was 3-for-4 and scored twice from the two-hole.
Christner, who finished with a team-high three RBI from the three-hole, picked up the win for New London. Christner went all seven innings from the pitcher’s circle, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits. The Tiger freshman punched out 10 Comets.
For Cardinal, Davis led the way with three extra base hits and four runs batted in. Lindsay Moore went 2-for-3 with a double, and Fullenkamp and Ridgway each had two hits.
Ridgway also took the loss, pitching all seven innings and allowing eight earned runs on 13 hits. She fanned five while earning her head coach’s praise.
“Our pitcher battled. She threw that ball where it was supposed to go, but they just seemed to hit it,” Harter said. “She doesn’t come unglued much. She’s a pretty tough kid.”
Cardinal (8-7, 3-2 SEISC South) continues its homestand today against Keokuk.
New London @ Cardinal
New London – 0 0 0 1 0 3 5 — 9 13 3
Cardinal – 0 0 0 3 0 2 3 — 8 10 3
CARDINAL — Davis 3-4, HR, 2(2B), 4RBI, 2R; Moore 2-3, 2B, 2R; Fullenkamp 2-3; Ridgway 2-4, 2RBI; Adam 1-4, R; Moses R
Pitching — Ridgway (L) 7 INN, 13H, 9R, 8ER, 5K
NEW LONDON — Koontz 1-4, 2B, 2R; Chiri 3-4, 2B, 2R; Christner 2-4, 2B, 3RBI; Parks RBI, R; Noel 1-4, 2RBI, R; Krieger 2-4, 2B, RBI; Pry 3-4, RBI; Boyer 1-4; Holtkamp RBI; Allen 2R
Pitching — Christner (W) 7 INN, 10H, 8R, 6ER, 10K, 2BB