CHELTENHAM >> Kerri Quinn gave it a good ride, but the ball was tracked down by the center fielder.
Bonner & Prendergast had a few of those well-hit balls go nowhere fast Monday afternoon at Arcadia University in a PIAA Class 4A first-round game against Eastern York, the District 3 runner-up.
It was frustrating, too.
Quinn, the Pandas’ senior second baseman, was hitting second in the bottom of the seventh inning. Down a run, with one out, Quinn’s bullet to the outfield had gapper written all over it.
Eastern York’s Haidyn Shaffer had other ideas.
“I thought it was going to drop, but she made a great play,” Quinn said. “What are you going to do?”
Kaitlyn Martin singled to keep Bonner & Prendie’s season alive, but the Pandas eventually bowed, 4-3.
The Pandas won the Catholic League and District 12 championships for the first time since 2013. They fall to 0-2 all-time in state tournament play.
“Definitely proud of the way they battled,” coach Tom McNulty said.
This wasn’t the way the Pandas wanted to go out, ending a remarkable season with a defeat that was perfectly avoidable. Plaguing the Pandas were four errors, which led to a pair of unearned runs allowed by junior pitcher Meghan Sullivan, who threw well considering the outcome.
“If we hit the ball a little better and made a few different plays in the field, this game would’ve been a lot different,” said left fielder Molly McNulty, who will attend Penn State in the fall. “We tried.”
Prendie fell behind, 3-0, but battled back with two runs in the third inning. McNulty and Quinn reached base with infield hits, then Caroline Manfre hit a ball up the middle that was stopped by shortstop Kenny Buckmyer. The ball, though, bounced off Buckmyer’s glove and trickled far enough away to allow McNulty and Quinn, who was at second base when the play started, to score Prendie’s first runs of the day.
Trailing 3-2 in the third, the Pandas tied the game without the benefit of a hit. Melissa Callahan got on base via an error. Pinch runner Sam Frescoln stole second and moved to third on a passed ball. After McNulty walked, the Pandas pulled off a double steal. McNulty ran to second while Frescoln swiped home to tie the game, 3-3.
“We never gave up, even when we were down,” said Quinn, who will major in nursing at Temple. “That’s how we were all season, too. We never gave up.”
Alas, fielding woes continued to haunt the Pandas in the latter stages. The winning rally came in the fifth inning when pitcher Maelynn Leber (six hits, three Ks, one walk) smashed a one-out double. Morgan Little then hit a groundball to the hole at shortstop. Instead of trying to throw out the runner at first — it would have been a bang-bang play — Manfre threw to third base, but pinch runner Analese Fenwick made it to the bag well ahead of the toss. Buckmyer then hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Fenwick, giving Eastern York a lead it never relinquished.
Allison Martin, the Pandas’ speedy centerfielder and Kaityln’s twin sister, made an outstanding diving catch to close out the fifth. The Martin girls are the granddaughters of former Pandas coach, Charlie Weiners.
Eastern York left 11 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the sixth and seventh innings, when it was trying to tack on insurance runs. A pair of sharply hit grounders to Kaitlyn Martin were scooped up easily for the final out in each frame.
Sullivan scattered eight hits, but allowed only two earned runs while striking out five. The junior split pitching duties with McNulty this season. Both players made nine starts from the circle and in left field.
“I’ll remember this year the most, especially, because it was my first year being with my dad (Coach McNulty) and winning the PCL was really special,” Molly McNulty said. “If we would have gotten killed today, we would have all been a little bit more disappointed. I think we fought hard until the end … and I think we fought hard all year, for sure.”