ABINGTON — The 5-0 final score of Tuesday’s AACA matchup between St. Basil Academy and Gwynedd Mercy Academy could not be any more misleading.
St. Basil busted the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning in which it scored all of its runs, in which was otherwise a very close and competitive game.
The pitching matchup was a rematch of a year ago. Both teams sent their respective aces to the rubber as Nichole Eberhard for the Panthers went toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with Anna Gillespie for the Monarchs. Both pitchers, and their defenses, were flat dominant for five innings. There was little to no offense generated, with only scattered base runners, through the first five innings. The opening five frames were completed in just less 50 minutes.
“She’s a very good pitcher,’ said GMA coach Charlie Ball of Eberhard. “She’s a very good pitcher, I take nothing away from St. Basil at all it’s a very good team.’
The game swung in the sixth inning which was really sparked by an interesting tactical move by St. Basil, which put speedy and capable hitter Kelly Ryan in its nine hole, the spot in the lineup leading off the bottom of the sixth for the Panthers.
“A lot of people put their worst hitter in the nine hole, we have a good, fast hitter in the nine hole,’ St. Basil coach Steve Sonneborn said.
Ryan bunted for a base hit to lead off the inning, a skill that Sonneborn explained that she has been working on a lot this season. The next four hitters for the Panthers reach base safely, highlighted by a two-RBI single from Eberhard to tack on some insurance runs for herself before she went back out for the top of the seventh.
As Gillespie and Eberhard mowed down the opposition’s lineup, both teams were basically forced to play perfect defense. While neither side technically committed an error in the game, a couple mental mistakes in the sixth by GMA allowed the Panthers to extend their lead. While the Panthers weren’t tested all that much throughout the game it made all the plays it needed to.
“The key for us is to play error free,’ Sonneborn said. “When we play error free, we’re usually pretty successful.’
Unfortunately for the pitchers, one had to take a loss but the performance of Gillespie should not go over looked in a losing effort. Prior to the sixth inning, Gillespie allowed two hits through the first five innings which account for the only two St Basil baserunners in the early going.