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Clark's clutch hit completes Pine Grove's comeback

PINE GROVE — Game 1 of Friday’s Class 1A quarterfinal featured plenty of big moments late, but Pine Grove stayed bigger.

The Panthers (21-9) came back to beat West Union 3-2, taking a 1-0 series lead.

“We figured out a way to score runs when we needed it,” Pine Grove coach Justin Jordan said. “And we made some plays.”

The biggest runs came in the bottom of the sixth.

Trailing 2-1, the Panthers had the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position for Sara Clark, who had come in as a pinch hitter just one inning earlier.

Clark lined the go-ahead single up the middle to put the Panthers back on top.

“I did what coach said, which was ‘see ball hit ball’ and that’s what I did,” Clark said.

Though she battled some nerves at the plate, Clark continued to do what she’s gotten a knack for this season.

“She’s big in moments where we’ve got some runners on base and we really needed her to hit the ball and she came through,” Jordan said. “She came through down 0-2 and battled her way back and found a way.”

West Union (12-10) got the tying run on in the top of the seventh on a throwing error by pitcher Lizzie Meeks. The runner got all the way to third with two outs, but Meeks got Sadie Cobb to ground out and end it.

“We just came up short,” Eagles coach Jake McDonald said. “Sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug and we were just the bug at this point tonight.”

Both teams struggled offensively early in the game, but Meeks scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the fifth. She drew a walk with the bases loaded, two outs and a full count.

With West Union facing two outs in the top of the sixth. Mollie Reaves beat out a single to get the tying run on. Addison Collum drove her home with a double, then her courtesy runner scored on a dropped fly ball.

Game 2 will be Saturday at 5 p.m. at West Union.

EXTRA BASES

BIG INNING: Memory Mauney was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the sixth. Jazzie Smithey followed with a single to put the tying and go ahead runs on base.

BIG STAT: Both teams combined for five hits in the first four and a half innings. They combined for six in the next two and a half.

COACH SPEAK: “We’ve just got a hard grit mentality. That’s what we always have been here at Pine Grove and hopefully that what we’ll always be and that is ‘It ain’t over until it’s over’ and they’re going to keep fighting and playing their tails off.” —Jordan