By Sara Welch | Staff Writer
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Garfield (5-1, 4-1 PTC County) broke through a scoreless stalemate with Mogadore (5-5, 1-4 PTC County), collecting four hits and two runs.
The G-Men compounded that effort in the sixth inning with three more hits and two more runs, shutting the Wildcats out and earning a 4-0 Portage Trail Conference County Division victory in Garrettsville on Wednesday.
Following a two-game series with Mogadore, Garfield advanced its league record to 4-1, while the Wildcats fell to 1-4.
The win keeps Garfield one game back of the undefeated Southeast Pirates in the division standings, tied for second with Waterloo, which also has just one league loss.
On Wednesday for Garfield, it was Whitney Miller who got the fifth-inning rally started with a basehit. On the next at-bat, Haley Damko swung for a single, advancing Miller to second. The next two batters popped out to the pitcher and shortstop, respectively, marking Garfield's first two outs in the inning. When it looked as if Damko and Miller may be left stranded on first and second, Taylor Brown ripped a line drive to shallow centerfield for an RBI single, chasing Miller home.
Shelby Baughman, who hit a homerun against the Wildcats during Tuesday's 5-2 Garfield victory, ripped an RBI single on the next at-bat -- in a similar fashion to Brown's hit -- with the exception of placing the ball in left field.
"It's not always the big hits that get us through," Garfield head coach Tina Downing said. "We didn't see her (Mogadore pitcher Briana Riley) yesterday, which might be why it took us a while to make adjustments. Then, finally, we started moving up in the box and up on the plate, trying to get basehits instead of trying to win it with one swing."
Garfield closed the door in the bottom of the sixth inning, adding two more runs and starting consecutive innings with hits in its first two at-bats.
Leah Maxey led off with a double. Running the count full and battling in the batter's box, Nina Jurcevic came away from her at-bat with a single. Once again, runners occupied first and second base. After an empty at-bat, Damko smashed her third single of the game and plated both runners.
"When we play Mogadore, they're always tougher the second time around," Downing said. "It seems like we struggle with them, but I think the pressure was off a little bit in the sixth, because we had two runs. We knew they were going to hit and were going to try to come back, so the girls weren't happy with a two-run lead. We needed to get two more across at least.
"(Mogadore) swing the bats. They're not going to give up because we put runs on the board," Downing said. "We just came out determined that two wasn't enough."
After going hitless in both the top of the fifth and sixth innings, Mogadore had a lone hit in the seventh. Alex Heminger -- the second batter of the inning -- smashed a double to give the Wildcats hope of a potential rally, but the following two batters grounded out to second and shortstop, leaving her stranded at third base.
"Defensively, we're pretty strong, especially when it's tight," Downing said. "This year, we've been smart when there's runners on. We've struggled in the past, but this is a smart group. They know to keep their heads and get the smart out, which isn't always the lead runner. My shortstop is phenomenal. She gets everything that's near her. Yesterday, she got everything on both sides of the pitcher. I think everyone just feeds off her because they want to do well too."
Garfield's defense only committed one error on the night, while Mogadore collected five.
Rounding out the game's hitting, Baughman singled in the first inning for Garfield, Ashley Barker singled in the first for Mogadore and both Naomi Pollock and Brinkley Harvey finished with two singles each for the Wildcats.