Otsego outlasts Oak Harbor in thriller, 2-1


By Yaneek Smith

Special to the Sentinel-Tribune

OAK HARBOR — When two great teams compete against one another, the slightest play can be the difference in the game, and that was the case in Otsego’s thrilling 2-1 victory over Oak Harbor.

On top of that, there are no teams in the Northern Buckeye Conference that have an undefeated record in the league any more.

The Knights (8-4, 3-1 NBC) took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning, only to see the Rockets (9-2, 3-1) rally to tie the score at one run apiece in the bottom of the sixth. However, Otsego scored a run on a liner by Sabrina Martinez-Buehrer in the seventh, and Riley Row finished off Oak Harbor by striking out Kaitlyn Meloche to end the game.

In the top of the seventh, Alyse Sorg struck out Kaylynn Euler to begin the inning, but the next batter, Mackenzie Shirkey, hit a double to left field. On the first pitch to Martinez-Buehrer, Rocket catcher Allie Giezie lost her grip on the ball after catching it, and Shirkey moved up to third.

The next pitch saw Martinez-Buehrer hit a liner that was nearly caught by Oak Harbor first baseman Porter Gregory only to have the ball ricochet off the top of her glove and into right field for a base hit, scoring Shirkey.

Martinez-Buehrer went 3-for-3 with both of her team’s two RBIs.

“I was thinking, just put the ball in play,” said Martinez-Buehrer, the No. 9 hitter. “I wanted to get us to the top of the lineup. I knew Shirkey was at third base, and I knew that if I got it over their heads, she would score.”

On the next play, Sorg caught a Rowe pop up and doubled Martinez-Buehrer off first base.

In the bottom half of the inning, Giezie hit a sharp ground ball to Martinez-Buehrer, the second baseman, who overthrew Euler at first. The ball nearly rolled into the Rocket dugout before Otsego catcher Aubrey Hartman, who was backing up the throw, threw to Martinez-Buehrer, who tagged Giezie out in a brief rundown.

Morgan LaLonde fouled out to third base in the next at-bat before Rowe struck out Meloche to end it.

“We talk about how it comes down to the little things all the time. Sometimes we just need to slow down and live in the moment,” said Otsego coach Jason Colyer. “If the ball is hit to me, what am I doing with it? Aubrey got Giezie (for the out) even though in 99 out of 100 situations, she’s just backing up first base (and nothing happens). Kudos to her for doing her job.”

The game was like a boxing match where both lineups were trying to feel the others’ pitchers out, and the Knights were able to get a clutch hit late.

“Sorg went to the changeup, and it got us into some trouble, but our kids did a good job of recognizing it,” said Colyer. “Then Sabrina came through for us. It’s nice to have a senior at the bottom of the lineup like her.”

Oak Harbor’s lone run was scored in the sixth when Reese Adkins led off with a double and Gregory drew a walk. Ava Geyer struck out looking, and Karder Haas hit a pop up to second, which was ruled an out because of the infield-fly rule, but the throw to first was wild, allowing Adkins to move to third. On the next pitch to Tatum Baumgartner, Gregory moved up to second without a throw, and with the count reaching 2-2, a wild pitch allowed Adkins to score and Gregory to get to third. But Rowe got a strikeout to end the threat.

The game’s first run came in the second when Otsego’s Cailyn Rider led off the inning with a base hit up the middle. Hartman grounded out to third before Euler reached on a walk. Shirkey grounded into a force at third, but Martinez-Buehrer came through, hitting a 3-2 pitch to left to score Rider.

In the bottom half, Baumgartner reached base on a one-out walk and advanced to second when Giezie grounded out to short. Baumgartner reached third on a wild pitch with LaLonde at the plate, but Rowe got a strikeout to end the threat.

The Rockets came close to scoring in the fourth when Geyer led off with a single, and Haas got her to second on a bunt. A wild pitch moved Geyer to third, and Baumgartner laid down a bunt that was fielded by Rowe, who caught Geyer in a lengthy rundown, eventually resulting in her being tagged for the out. Baumgartner moved up to second, but Giezie grounded out to second in the next at-bat.

Rowe allowed just one run on four hits to go with six strikeouts and two walks, and she worked in and out of jams in the second and fourth innings, respectively.

“In the first inning, she threw a lot of pitches,” said Colyer. “It came down to a mental game as much as a physical game, and she has a lot of that (figured out).”

Sorg pitched quite well, too, allowing two runs on seven hits to go with five strikeouts and one walk.

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