Cardinal Newman was one strike away from forcing a third game in its SCISA 3A championship series with Wilson Hall on Thursday night.
Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, the Barons bats came out swinging after Liza Lowder worked a 2-2 count with two outs and two on.
Four consecutive hits later, Wilson Hall claimed a 7-3 lead. When Cardinal Newman came to bat, Barons pitcher Drake Ives struck out two and closed out the 2-game sweep of the Cardinals at the Jiggs Softball Complex.
“It was an epic series,” Wilson Hall coach Teresa Alexander said, noting the Barons’ 6-5 win in 8 innings Monday in Sumter. “Cardinal Newman is, without question, the most improved team in SCISA. My team, made up of five seniors, we had a lot of experience. We were the state runners-up last year, and I think when it was all said and done, it was the experience that gave us the edge tonight.”
Wilson Hall (26-9) showed what experience means in the clutch.
Addison Elmore led off the seventh for the Barons with a single. With one out, Ives was intentionally walked for the second time in the game. Lowder stepped to the plate after Sydney Jarecki popped out for the second out.
Just as Hogan looked at punching out Lowder to end the game, the Wilson Hall batter drove a 2-2 pitch to right that scored Elmore and Ives. Lowder then came home on Becka Noyes’ single, and Madison Sliwanik’s 2-run inside-the-park home run broke the game open.
Ives finished with 15 strikeouts. She gave up four hits and walked four.
Hogan also worked a complete game. She scattered six Barons hits and struck out four going into the five-hit, five-run seventh.
Wilson Hall took a 1-0 lead in the third when Ives’ 2-out single drove in Carly Allred.
Cardinal Newman’s Hannah Bostic slammed a 2-out double in the bottom of that frame to score M.K. Gillespie and Mandy Jenkins to make it 2-1 Cardinals (26-4).
Gillespie, the Cardinals’ second baseman, snagged Jarecki’s 2-out line drive in the top of the fifth, robbing the Wilson Hall batter of a bases-loaded single.
Going into the bottom of that frame, Gillespie doubled and scored to make it 3-1 Cardinals.
Noyes doubled in Lowder with nobody out in the top of the sixth, but the Cardinal Newman defense got three straight outs in the top of the sixth to keep a 3-2 lead.
Ives wouldn’t allow the Cardinals to capitalize. She struck out four in the bottom of the sixth, allowing Cameron Argoe to reach base on a dropped third strike.
“Both games were hard fought,” Cardinal Newman coach Dwayne Jones said of the series. “I’m proud of our girls. I wish our girls would have got that third and last strike that would have forced the third game, I would have liked to have seen how that had gone, but I know we squeezed every bit out of our players, and I knew they gave everything they had.”