Christopher Dock gets aggressive in win over Bristol

TOWAMENCIN — Cassidy Jagiela kept making the right read Monday afternoon.

Whether it was getting under a looping fly ball or jumping on an errant throw home to score a run, the Christopher Dock senior outfielder kept making the right play. It seemed to be contagious.

Dock played a smart, efficient game as it topped visiting Bristol 7-0 to force a tie atop the BAL Independence between the two teams.

“For me, that was one of our goals, to play clean,’ Dock coach Wayne Benner said. “We played them at their place, we had a couple errors and they exploded on us. It was nice to turn it around today.’

The last time the two met, Bristol (13-3, 10-1 BAL) walked away a winner thanks to its offense and some sloppy play by the Pioneers (14-4, 11-1). Dock’s errors had given Bristol the opportunities it had needed to get an early leg up in the BAL Independence race.

So the Pioneers knew what they needed to do Monday. They had to play a clean game defensively and bring it on offense to get back on even terms.

Check all of that off.

“We played as a team,’ Jagiela said. “We played hard, we had a lot of fun and we came into it ready to win and that’s exactly what we did.’

Benner opted to give Bristol a different look from the outset, sending freshman Emily Groarke to the circle in lieu of senior Laurne Weidler. Weidler would come in, pitching the final three innings of the shutout, but with Bristol plenty familiar with her stuff, it was the player dubbed “G-2′ who got the first crack.

Groarke was solid, allowing just two hits and a walk against four strikeouts. She got help from her defense, including a double play in the first inning and a great running grab of a Jade Stevens fly ball by Jagiela in left in the fourth inning. But mostly, the freshman hurler just attacked the zone.

“She just threw strikes,’ Benner said. “This is a team that if you put a couple runners on with walks, they’re going to bunt you or slap you to death. If you don’t put runners on, they can’t really do much of that so that was key for both pitchers that they weren’t walking people.’

Dock’s offense wasn’t overpowering but it was opportunistic. Lanae Hunsberger singled in the bottom of the second with one out, moved on a wild pitch and eventually scored on a two-out single by second baseman Ella Barlick. Barlick, the team’s No. 9 hitter had a strong two-way day with solid defense at second, a hit, sac bunt and a fielder’s choice that netted a run.

The two-out scoring became a theme as Dock scored a single run in the second, third and fourth innings, all with two down.

“There’s a lot of girls on this team, no matter what their experience level is, they have confidence at this point,’ Benner said. “That’s a big part of hitting, just to be confident.’

Jagiela made it 2-0 in the third when she delivered a two-out single that plated Groarke, who had led off the frame with a double. Once Dock got runners on, it did what Bristol had hoped to do with bunts, steals, walks and aggression on the bases.

That the runs were coming with two outs wasn’t a surprise on the Pioneer side.

“We love to rally on two,’ Jagiela said. “We get really hyped about that. As soon as we get down, our captains pick us back up and we really come together.’

After increasing the lead, Jagiela helped keep it that way in the top of the fourth. After Groarke had walked Bristol’s shortstop Olivia D’Emidio, first baseman Jade Stevens got solid contact on a pitch and sent it flying into left. With a noticeable breeze blowing left to right across the field, the ball seemed to hold for a moment, allowing Jagiela to adjust and made the snare on the move.

“I took one wrong turn and realized exactly what I was doing,’ the senior outfielder said. “I hustled real hard to get back to it and luckily I made the grab.’

Dock added another run in the fourth when Mattasyn Shisler walked to start the frame. She moved up on Barlick’s sacrifice then went to third on a 4-3 groundout by leadoff hitter Emily Gordon before coming home on a throwing error. Dock led, but had left a couple more runs on the bases through four.

The Pioneers finally got their breakthrough in the fifth when they scored four runs thanks to some heads-up running. Weidler and Emma Lewis drew walks to start the frame before Jagiela singled. Jagiela’s hit fell into no-man’s land and the throw in was off-target and into the dugout, allowing Weidler to score from third.

Hunsberger followed with a grounder up the middle, but the fielder opted to go after Lewis heading into home. Her throw was high, allowing Lewis to score and it caromed way back up the third base line, which Jagiela pounced on.

“I got into third and I saw it go by me,’ Jagiela said. “They didn’t get to it so I took it as my way home.’

With the entire lineup putting balls into play, it was just a matter of staying aggressive on the bases.

“Smart baserunning is key for us, we have to keep our heads in the game and not get distracted when we’re on base,’ Jagiela said. “All the girls on our team can hit, which is awesome so whenever we need a hit we can count on whoever is up to bat.’

Hunsberger capped the scoring when she got a good jump off a ground ball hit by Barlick, beating the throw to home plate.

From there, it was all about shutting down Bristol and aside from one error, the Pioneers were able to do it. If the teams conclude the week tied in the conference, they will have a one-game playoff for the league title. Benner said that game would be sometime next week at a neutral site.

Dock concludes its home schedule Tuesday against Plumstead Christian and Jagiela said it’s hard to believe her four years are almost over. Granted, the Pioneers are the current top seed in the District I Class AA rankings, but it’s that time of the year for seniors.

If Dock can keep having days like Monday, where the players see what their coach sees, they might be able to play for a few more weeks.

“I stress base running a lot,’ Benner said. “I like to be aggressive but it’s really a matter of the base runners knowing the situation against me knowing the situation. By the time I see it, yell it and it goes in their ear and to their brain, it’s too late. If they can see it and react, it’s a much quicker thing. They ran the bases hard today and that’s the game we always like to play.’

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