By Mark Ruschau
HUBER HEIGHTS -- After Thursday afternoon's dramatic four-run rally in the Division IV regional semifinal win over Bradford, people who attended the game wondered if the New Bremen Cardinals had anything left in them.
The simple answer was evident in Saturday's regional final game against the Triad Cardinals, and it was an emphatic YES.
In fact, the New Bremen squad had an even bigger flair for the dramatic as they rallied from a two-run seventh-inning deficit and when on to post a 3-2, 10-inning win.
New Bremen will take a 20-7 record to the state semifinals for the first time in school history on Thursday at 3 p.m. at Brookside Park in Ashland against the number-one ranked team in the state, the Crestview Knights. Crestview won its 27th straight game Saturday afternoon, defeating Gibsonburg 2-1 in eight innings.
"The girls have worked hard for this," said New Bremen coach Craig Griesdorn. "This team has never quit battling all year and even though we made some mistakes today, the girls kept working and came through." The game was scoreless through six innings before Triad broke through with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh.
Lindsay Wyant singled with one out and with two outs Ashley Crowder broke the tie with a double to centerfield. Hanna Hay then made the score 2-0 with a single.
New Bremen's seventh-inning rally started with back-to-back one-out walks to Morgan Cox and Abby Cisco. Kelly Steineman, who was 0-for-7 to that point for the regional, came through with a huge double to deep centerfield, plating Cox and courtesy runner Sara Rutschiling to tie the game.
"Kelly got a big hit for us in the seventh to tie the score," said Griesdorn.
Triad squandered a major chance in the top of the ninth as Wyant singled and Erika Graves reached to start the inning. New Bremen catcher Elly Cisco then made a big play as she went to the base of the screen and made a juggling catch of a foul ball for the first out. Hay then hit groundball to short and New Bremen shortstop Morgan Cox made a running stab of the ball, stepped on second, and fired to first to end the inning.
"We knew they were going to hit the ball and we told the girls that they just had to make the routine plays," said Griesdorn. "Even though we committed six errors, we were still able to come up with the plays that we needed to make."
"We had a lot of chances to score today, we just didn't get the job done," said Triad coach Cheri Dixon. "We had hoped to get things going offensively faster then we did today but we just struggled at the plate."
According to Ohio High School Athletic Association rules, called 'International Rules', starting in the 10th the two teams started the inning with the last batter of the previous inning starting as a courtesy runner at second base.
In the Triad 10th, Hay started at second as the courtesy runner and lead-off batter Amber Herron was called out as she stepped out of the batter's box attempting to lay down a bunt. Vanessa Martin lined out and Erin Klise grounded out to end the inning.
In the New Bremen half of the 10th, Katie McGovern started the inning as a courtesy runner for pitcher Maria Staton. After Rutschilling struck out and Erika Bell grounded out, Jennifer Dick came through with the big hit as she singled to center to end the game as McGovern scored.
"Of course I was nervous in the batter's box," said Dick. "All I wanted to do was get on top of the ball and come though with a hit. This was just an awesome feeling."
"I have always told the girls that if they put the ball in play good things will happen and it did today," said Griesdorn. "We executed in the bottom of the 10th and the bottom of the order came through for us again."
"We were hoping to get one more inning out of our starting pitcher (Klise) but she was tiring and they got to her," said Dixon. "We shot ourselves (in the foot) a couple of times in the 10th and we just didn't get the job done."
Lost in all the late-inning dramatics for New Bremen was a solid pitching performance by sophomore Maria Staton. Staton held Triad to two runs and six hits over over 10 innings. Triad had come in the game averaging nine runs a game with five players hitting over .400.
"The key for me today was keeping them off-balance," said Staton. "My drop ball was was working for me today. I also had some great defense behind me today, they made all the big plays when they had to."