POTTSGROVE >> No late-game falter for Pottsgrove and no late-game comeback for Perkiomen Valley.
A huge early season win for the Falcons, the Vikings’ 22-game PAC-10 winning streak snapped and a strong indication that this PAC-10 season is going to be a wild ride.
Gabi Ermish and Emily Oltman pitcher’s duel lived up to its end of the billing, but it was a two-spot in the first inning that was the difference as the Falcons fended off the Vikings late en route to a 2-1 victory Wednesday afternoon.
The win marks Pottsgrove’s first victory over the Vikings since April 9, 2014, breaking a streak of four-straight losses that included a heartbreaking 4-3 extra-innings defeat in the PAC-10 semifinals last season.
“We expect to win every game,” Pottsgrove head coach Julie Davis said. “Every game we’re looking to beat who we’re playing. Today it was Perk Valley, Friday it’s Phoenixville. Obviously today there was a little bit more pressure, coming from the PAC-10 tournament and walking away from the extra-inning loss, we had our eyes set on this coming into the season. We played our game today and we won.”
They have Ermish and a wacky first-inning play to thank for it.
Ermish was excellent in her complete-game effort, allowing three hits and one run (zero earned) while striking out seven. She retired the side in order in four of the seven innings and didn’t run into any major trouble until the sixth after a Gillian Barrie infield single scored Ana Bruni, who had reached on an error to lead off the inning, to make it 2-1.
It was the type of dominant performance that was needed from the Bryant University commit, who went toe-to-toe with reigning All-Area First Teamer Oltman (Rider University commit) throughout.
“Everything was working today,” Ermish said. “I was just hitting my spots.”
The two-run cushion didn’t hurt, either.
Shauna Maggio provided the key play in the first inning as she hit a weak grounder to the PV first baseman with the bases loaded and two outs. As the PV first baseman fielded the grounder, Maggio “channeled the football part of her” and leveled her as she ran down the basepath. The ball squirted away from the PV infielder allowing Kelsey Hochstuhl and Ermish to score as Maggio dove to the bag to complete her infield single.
“I was hesitant to go after it but you have to do what you have to do to get on base,” Maggio said. “I wasn’t going to run around her and get tagged out so I just decided to keep going. I channeled my football side on that.”
The two-RBI infield single turned out to be the difference maker, even as Pottsgrove’s bats were silenced throughout the rest of the contest by Oltman.
The Rider University’s dominance went unquestioned as the senior allowed two runs (zero earned) in six innings of work while scattering four hits and striking out five. Errors (PV committed four) and the lack of the timely hit were enough to sink the Vikings, who lost for the first time in PAC-10 play since the PAC-10 semifinals in 2014.
“Pottsgrove deserved to win,” PV head coach Dan McLaughlin said. “It was a game where whoever made the least amount of mistakes would win the game.
“Hammy (Taylor Hamm) was catching Emily for the first time and they worked well together. It’s not always easy when you’re used to a certain catcher and you put someone new in there. Emily pitched well enough to win but we didn’t help her out with the bats or out in the field.”
The Vikings seemed poised to make another late-inning rally after Barrie’s aforementioned RBI single in the sixth. However, it was Ermish and the Falcons’ defense that came up big in the seventh to preserve the win. Rachel Cherubini made a diving catch in foul territory for the first out and Ermish got the next batter to fly out to center before fielding a weakly hit grounder back to the rubber and throwing to first to clinch the win.
NOTES >> Haley Streeper finished 2-for-3 with a double for PV. Bruni also had a stolen base. … Cori Dickinson, Cherubini and Hochstuhl each finished with hits for Pottsgrove. … The Vikings finished with three runners left on base to Pottsgrove’s six. Perkiomen Valley’s 22-game PAC-10 winning streak included PAC-10 playoff games.