MILLEDGEVILLE – It took 11 innings to find a winner in a potential regional preview matchup between Newman and Milledgeville on Wednesday at Millwheel Park.
With the score knotted up at 5, the Comet offense exploded and cranked out six runs to take home an 11-5 victory in a bitter cold wind.
Sam Miller picked up the win for the Comets, as she went all 11 innings. She gave up five runs and 14 hits, striking out 17 while allowing four walks.
“She pitched a great game today,” said catcher Julie Hurd of Miller. “She was hitting all of her spots, which was nice for me and made my job a lot easier. She did a great job, but I think everyone picked it up all around. We all played great defense. All around, it was good.”
Morgan Adolph took the loss for the Missiles, after pitching 6 1/3 innings in relief of sophomore starter Sam Schmidt.
The wind affected teams in all areas of the game, whether it was pitching, hitting or fielding. With the wind blowing out, Kayleigh Leddy was the first hitter to take advantage, as she bombed a high fly ball over the fence with a runner on to give her Missiles a 2-0 lead in the second inning.
“They had to hit in the wind, we had to hit in the wind,” Missiles coach Brad Grenoble said. “They had to play defense in the wind, we had to play defense into the wind. It was a game of opportunities; we couldn’t capitalize, and they could. We also hit a lot of line drives instead of getting balls higher up.”
The Comets quickly responded, as Hurd drove in a run that sparked an RBI apiece from Jenna Stevens and Mary Alice Oswalt that staked Newman to a 3-2 lead in the third.
Milledgeville tacked on a pair of runs playing small ball – one in the fourth, and one in the fifth – to take a 4-3 lead.
Once again, Hurd responded for her team in the seventh. Both she and Stevens hit run-scoring doubles to restore the lead to Newman, 5-4.
“It was a big hit,” said Hurd. “Everyone was pumped up in the dugout, everyone was getting us going, and it was a lot of fun. We all backed each other up with hits, and it started a rally.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Milledgeville appeared to have all the momentum, as they had runners on first and second with only one out. A foul ball that nearly hit the fence was snagged by Stevens, who was playing third base for Newman, to forestall the rally.
However, Courtney Swalve came up and knocked in a run with a single to tie things up. Unfortunately for the Missiles, a baserunner got caught between second and third, and was tagged out to end the inning with the score tied at 5.
“Teams go through games doing things that they don’t normally do,” said Grenoble. “Tonight was one of them, whether it was swinging at pitches over our head, errors, or bad baserunning.
“They have a great group over there. If we had Sam on our side, it would have helped a lot. She didn’t walk many girls, and her team made plays for her.”
In extras, tight pitching and defense from both teams allowed the game to carry on. The Missiles got their lead runner on in the bottom of the 10th, when a bunt attempt was made. It grazed off the bat and started a line drive toward the base of the backstop fence. An alert Julie Hurd sprawled out from her catching position and ended up making the catch to halt the Milledgeville threat.
The Comets made the most of that momentum, as they came back with their big inning, batting around in the frame to score six runs before it was all said and done.
“We talked before the game about the conditions, and how it could be a high scoring game with how the wind blowing out as fast as it was.” said Newman coach JD Waldschmidt. “We just wanted to work on finishing the game. We talk about getting 21 outs, and today it obviously took a lot more than that. It’s awesome to see the girls battle and get the big win over a team we will see in the regional, as well.”
Newman 11, Milledgeville 5, 11 inn.
Star of the game: Samantha Miller, Newman, 11 IP, 5 ER, 14 H, 17 SO, 4 BB
Key performers: Julie Hurd, Newman, 4 hits, 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs, 3 runs; Kayleigh Leddy, Milledgeville, 3 hits, HR, 2 RBIs
Up next: Dakota at Milledgeville, 4 p.m. today; Fulton at Newman, 4:30 p.m. today