Traverse City Central pulls off doubleheader sweep of Alpena with wild walk-off win

Apr. 30—TRAVERSE CITY — Some wins don't even require a full seven innings. Other wins? Well, they sometimes require a four-run bottom of the seventh to grab an exciting come-from-behind, walk-off victory.

The Traverse City Central Trojans experienced both of those Tuesday at home at the Trojans Athletic Complex.

The Trojans rode Camryn Craig's arm and bat to an easy 14-0 five-inning blowout, mercy-rule victory in game one of their Big North Conference doubleheader against the Alpena Wildcats. Craig's arm and bat would come in handy in game two as well, but the whole team needed to contribute as Central won 7-6 in walk-off fashion thanks to Anika Peterson's two-out, two-RBI double in the Trojans' final at-bat.

"That first one was great. The second one was a bit a nail-biter," TC Central head coach Nate Alger said. "I'm glad that we had to do that though because it's good to see that we can come back."

Craig fired her third no-hitter of the season in game one, striking out 11 Wildcats in dominating fashion. She also finished with a home run, a triple that she scored on and three RBI.

Audrey Williams had a big game at the plate, going 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored in the first game, and Hayden Boonstra and Peterson — who would play big roles in the comeback victory in game two — each had two RBI in the shutout win.

Craig started game two with a bang, taking an 0-2 pitch and depositing it over the left-field fence for a leadoff home run in the bottom half of the first inning.

The Wildcats tied the game at 1-1 with an RBI groundout off Williams, who started game two in the circle. But Craig struck with two strikes again in the bottom of the third inning, hitting a moonshot for her third homer of the day and a 2-1 lead.

All seemed well until the top of the fourth when the Wildcats scored four runs on back-to-back long balls, a three-run shot and a solo bomb, for a 5-2 lead. Alpena tacked on one more with another solo homer in the top of the fifth for a 6-2 advantage, but the Trojans weren't about to go down without a fight.

"I was looking at our second loss of the season against a good Alpena team, and they figured out a way to make it happen," Alger said. "We're always saying that we're in it. We have confidence from one through nine in our hitters that they can bring us out of it at any moment."

Williams hit a solo shot of her own to cut the Wildcat lead to three in the bottom of the sixth, and the Trojans scored four times with two outs to get the walk-off win in the bottom of the seventh.

Craig rifled a one-out single to left, and Hannah Fellows singled up the middle after a flyout to center to put two Trojans on with two outs. Fellows was nearly picked off at first, but the field umpire ruled her safe, allowing Williams to single and bring home Craig.

Alger said he did not ask Fellows if she was out on the pickoff play at first, preferring not to know the answer.

"I don't care. The ump said she wasn't, so I'm going to take it," he said. "But it was close."

Ava King followed with an RBI single to make it 6-5 and put the winning run on base. Peterson did the rest, rocketing a shot to the right-field gap and bringing home Boonstra and King for the dramatic win.

"It all just started at the plate. I was saying, 'I believe I can hit. I believe I can hit,'" Peterson said. "As soon as the ball came and I swung, I immediately went, 'Yes!' and just let it go."

Trojan catcher Grace Cary said the entire team believed they could come back and win the second game.

"No matter what, if we're up or down, everybody's going to have each other's back and go all out whenever we have to," Cary said. "We were envisioning all the good things that were going to happen and being confident in what we do — because we've done it before, and we'll do it again."

Craig picked up the win in relief, going 3.2 innings and allowing one run on two hits with 10 strikeouts. Williams took the no-decision, pitching 3.1 innings while striking out three.

"I've really just been focusing on seeing the ball at the plate. And on the mound, I'm really trying to show up with my best on each pitch," Craig said.

Alger was encouraged that his team showed grit and determination to fight back Tuesday.

"We've had good vibes and good mojo amongst the team," he said. "We aren't very deep. We have 12 players, and if one of them is having an off day or there's an injury, we have to deal with that. What I've found is that our kids can do that, and today was a great example of that."

The Trojans hope the good vibes and good mojo continue when they head to Saginaw on Saturday for the Swan Valley Invitational.