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Springfield strikes last to pull out thriller with Penncrest

PETE BANNAN-DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA Springfield closer Jenna Casasanto (10), Caitlin Chambers (7) and starter Sam Ciasullo (20) react to their 5-4 victory Penncrest Wednesday.

SPRINGFIELD >> For a few minutes Wednesday, it appeared that Penncrest would pack up the bus and head home with a feel-good win.

The Lions trailed until the sixth inning when they scored three times to grab a two-run lead. Senior pitcher and All-Delco Maya Hartman was rolling along, retiring seven of the last eight hitters she faced. The Lions were by no means comfortably ahead on the scoreboard, but the momentum certainly was on their side.

Springfield had an answer.

Springfield’s Lauren Quinn, left, scores the go-ahead run in the sixth inning ahead of the tag of Penncrest catcher Brett Gavin in a 5-4 Central League win for the Cougars

A fielding miscue to begin the bottom of the sixth opened the door for a three-run rally by the host Cougars. Lauren Quinn and Victoria Ryan delivered the crushing blows at the plate, and Springfield walked away with a 5-4 win.

It was one of the best wins of the season for Springfield … and probably one of the most frustrating defeats for Penncrest.

“It hasn’t always been so easy,” said Jenna Casasanto, Springfield’s slick-fielding junior shortstop and No. 1 pitcher. “We needed this one.”

Springfield played a game of “whatever you can do, we can do better.” Penncrest scored all of its sixth-inning runs with two out, so Springfield came back and showed some two-out magic of its own. Quinn smashed a double to the gap in left-center, plating Sam Ciasullo and Jordan

Galloway to pull even at 4-4. The freshman Ryan then dug in and drove a pitch the opposite way to right field to knock in Quinn, who scored on a close play at the plate.

Ryan was thrown out trying to take second base, but not before she gave Springfield the lead and eventual victory.

“I was pretty nervous,” Ryan said. “I just didn’t want to get out.”

Springfield came crashing down to earth in the middle of the season, and it’s been an ongoing battle ever since. This is a young team, with only one senior, so the growing pains were expected.

But an impressive victory against a similar kind-of-in-rebuild-mode squad in Penncrest, which still has one of the top pitchers in Delco in Hartman, is a feather in the cap of the Cougars (6-5, 6-5). It marks their second 5-4 win against Penncrest this season, the first coming on opening day.

“Our team has a lot of young girls this year,” said Casasanto, who pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief, striking out two, to get the win. “We’re just working on getting better, and I think we have girls who are stepping up when they need to.”

Freshman Sam Ciasullo slams a triple onto the JV field on Saxer Ave in Springfield Wednesday against Penncrest. Ciasullo also threw 5 2/3 innings to help the Cougars rally for a 5-4 win over Penncrest.

Casasanto picked up the starter Ciasullo, also a freshman, who held her own until trouble arose in the sixth. It all happened with two outs. S.J. Whittemore and Kira Sbandi, who both singled, scored the tying and go-ahead runs after a fly ball by Holly Werner was misplayed in center. Eckels followed with a hard-hit single, her third of the day, to make it 4-2.

Hartman racked up nine strikeouts and induced a lot of weak contact, thus deserving a better fate. She scattered eight hits while allowing only one earned run. A pair of errors ultimately doomed the Lions (8-5, 7-5).

“It’s frustrating and I was definitely struggling a little bit with my rise today,” said Hartman, who will play softball and major in math and political science at Williams College. “Overall I think we did all right, we just have to keep getting better.”

In other Central League action:

Radnor 5, Marple Newtown 3 >> Libby Tewksbury had all of her pitches working for the Raiders (6-7, 5-7), throwing a complete game. She allowed no earned runs along the way.

Audrey Rosenblum powered the Radnor offense with a single, a double, an RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases. Quinn Tobias added two base knocks, and Carolyn Eckstein legged out a triple.

Amanda Smith had a double for the host Tigers.

PETE BANNAN – DFM Penncrest shortstop Julia Eckels handles a ground ball against Springfield. Eckels finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

Ridley 9, Conestoga 2 >> Winning pitcher Anna Torrens ripped a two-run double in the fourth inning to put the game out of reach for the Green Raiders. Sammy Williams followed with a run-scoring single.

Abby McCoy gave Ridley some insurance with a two-run double in the sixth. McCoy led the way with a pair of two-baggers and three RBIs. Torrens, Williams and Ashley Shenks also collected two hits each.

Harriton 10, Strath Haven 7 >> Anna Reisner’s bases-clearing double with two outs in the fifth broke the game open for the host Rams (3-10, 2-9). Kiley Marsh was 3-for-4 with three runs scored for Harriton.

Brooke Bender paced the Panthers with three hits, including a double, three runs scored and two ribbies. Emily Lesher singled and walked twice, and Audrey Kochanowicz had two singles, an RBI and a run scored.

Haverford 10, Lower Merion 0 >> Ali Murphy belted a homer, drove in three runs and scored three times while going 4-for-4. Lauren Meyers ripped a two-run single in the fifth inning to invoke the 10-run rule. Morgan Marchesani clubbed a double and triple, scored once and drove in one run, and Alex Quinn was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI for the Fords (10-3, 9-2).

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