NEWARK – Gardner-South Wilmington and Newark did not necessarily play like top-seeded Class 1A Thursday, combining for 10 errors and 13 unearned runs.
Newark, which scored the game’s only earned run, rallied to defeat the Panthers, 9-5, in a battle between teams that could meet again in 16 days for the GSW Sectional title.
“That’s why we got the field ready today – because we wanted to play them. We wanted to get this in and see what we can do,” Newark coach Brian Holman said. “They got an awfully nice pitcher (Emily Foley), an awfully nice team. It’s a good win for us.”
Down 5-2, the Norsemen (13-7) sent 12 batters to the plate and scored seven times in the bottom of the sixth inning. Five GSW errors were a big reason for their success, but Jasmine Mitchell, Megan DiClementi, Caroline Erickson and Kelsea Zitt all singled during the inning. Mitchell and Erickson each drove in two runs with their hits, and Zitt also got an RBI.
“At least two of the [Newark] runs were first-batter errors, and that just kills you,” GSW coach Jon Posing said. “We have a tendency to give up big innings when stuff like that happens. It didn’t kill us the first couple times, but it just happened too many times.”
The GSW half of the second inning was similar, with three Newark errors and a two-run Sydney Perkins double proving key in a three-run outburst. Another Newark error with two outs in the top of the third kept the inning alive for GSW cleanup hitter Maranda Residori, who hit a home run over the center-field fence.
“It was looking like we were going to lose,” Erickson said. “We played a game last night (an 11-0 loss to Somonauk), and it was going the same way as the first few innings were, but we just started hitting and stopped making a lot of errors.”
Newark pitcher Shelby Hoddy (7-2) only had one strikeout, but her zero walks helped limit the damage of the nine GSW hits. Foley (17-6) had three strikeouts and three walks, along with eight hits, in her line.
For a rematch to happen, GSW must survive the Grant Park Regional, and Newark must do the same on its own field. The Chicago Hope Academy and Iroquois West regionals also funnel into the sectional.
“I told Jon I hope we see them again in a couple weeks, because it would be a good game in the sectional final,” Holman said.
Posing is confident that his team could effectively forget about Thursday’s loss should it see Newark again.
“I think it’s easier that way with making the errors,” Posing said. “There’s no doubt that they started putting pressure on us by hitting the ball well. We just got to do a better job of making the plays.”