DIXON – If there was such thing as a third-inning stretch, the Oregon Hawks used it to their full advantage ... while the Dixon Duchesses saw it backfire on them in a doubleheader Saturday afternoon at Reynolds Park.
The Duchesses had control of the first game early on, as they scored seven runs in the first three innings. However, the Hawks made a comeback to capture an 8-7 win in the opener.
The top of the order for Dixon was stellar, as its top four batters accounted for six out of the seven runs scored. Pitcher Erin Smith was right in the heart of it all, as she had four hits, and a pair each of RBIs and runs.
"I think when we came out, we came out with intensity and fire," Smith said. "Once we got our lead, I think we assumed that the runs didn't matter. They started to add up near the end."
In the top of the fourth, Oregon produced four runs to begin to chip away at the daunting deficit it faced.
"A lot of us bouncing back was just staying focused and concentrating at the plate, and understanding what the pitcher is going to allow us," Oregon coach Jay Holley said. "Once we figured out the strike zone, we figured it out pretty good."
In the bottom of the fifth, the Hawks used their defense to gain momentum and turn the tide. Smith was up to bat for the Duchesses, and ripped a high line drive into left field that appeared to be a shoe-in for a base hit.
Luckily for Oregon, Ally Bartling showed off her range as she cruised toward the ball, and used every bit of her wingspan to rob the base hit. Bre Cullen then got some work in at the hot corner, as she snagged a screaming line drive down the line for another out. She ended the inning by ranging to her left and fielding a grounder like clockwork.
"We pulled together," Bartling said. "Our hitting was down, our fielding was down, but we got our confidence back up when we started hitting the ball and running the bases well."
Bartling then showed off her hitting prowess in the top of the sixth. She smacked a fly ball into the left-center gap and was standing on third with a triple when the dust settled. This jump-started a two-out, three-run rally that knotted up the game at seven runs apiece.
In the final frame, Bartling again came through in the clutch, as she stepped to the plate with a runner on second. Small-ball got the job done, as she knocked in the runner from second with a base hit into right, proving to be the game winning run.
"We committed too many errors; we had nine errors in that first game," said Dixon coach Chris Jones. "You can't have that many errors against any team and expect to survive with any lead. We also left a lot on base; we should've pushed in more runs, but we didn't."
Oregon used the momentum from the first win as a catalyst for the tail end of the doubleheader. The Hawks started off with four straight hits in their first at bat, and an excellent display of small-ball resulted in four runs. Oregon didn't look back, cruising to a 15-2 victory in five innings.
Oregon def. Dixon 8-7, 15-2
Star of the games: Ally Bartling, Oregon, 3B, game-winning RBI in opener
Key performer: Erin Smith, Dixon, 4 hits, 2 RBIs, 2 runs in opener
Up next: Oregon at Morrison, 4:30 p.m. today; Princeton at Dixon, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday