Lancers outslug Eagles in game that ends with controversial catch

News-DemocratApril 12, 2014 

— For the second straight year, the Belleville East Lancers got into a slugfest with the Columbia Eagles.

Haley Wroten drove in six runs with a three-run homer and a three-run double as the Lancers beat the Columbia Eagles 9-7 on Friday in a girls softball game.

"Last year, we went into this game and everybody expected this big pitchers' duel and it was 9-6 with them winning,'' Peters said. "I didn't know it would happen again, but it did.''

There were five homers in the game, which ended on a controversial play.

With one out and Kalli Farmer on first base in the top of the seventh inning, Columbia pitcher Brianna Weilbacher hit a liner into right field.

East's Ryley Blomberg dove to make the catch. She bobbled the ball, and from this reporter's vantage point from the bleachers in right field, it clearly hit the ground as she slid on top it.

Blomberg's glove slid back underneath the ball, and she alertly got up and threw to first base.

The base umpire, who seemed to be screened by Blomberg's body on the play, called it a catch. And, Farmer was doubled off first base for the final out.

"From my view, it looked like she caught it,'' Peters said. "I thought she made a great run on it and hopped up and was heads-up and threw it to (first base). She always plays good defense.''

It was a tough break for the Eagles, who had Rachel Garcia up next. Garcia had already homered twice in the game, giving her seven home runs on the season.

"It did,'' Columbia coach Rhonda Major said of the ball hitting the ground. "We were fighting in the seventh inning to the absolute end, and that's all I can ask of them."

The Lancers improved to 10-3 and wiped away the bad taste of an 8-0 loss to Edwardsville on Thursday.

The Eagles dropped to 11-2.

"It's one of those things,'' Major said. "Some teachable moments, and I definitely think we are a better team after today no matter what the result was.''

The Eagles pounced for four runs in the first inning against East pitcher Alison Mitts.

Farmer doubled and scored on a single by Taryn Pena.

Weilbacher and Garcia then hit back-to-back homers to center field.

The Eagles wouldn't score again until Garcia and Caitlyn Touchette hit back-to-back homers during a three-run, sixth inning.

"I'm proud of girls for the way we came out and attacked the ball,'' Major said. "I feel like we let off a little bit during those three or four innings that we didn't score. Those are just the little things that we've been talking about doing consistently. We have to continue to attack the ball at the plate.''

The Lancers got a run in the second inning as Andrea Roberts led off with a single and later scored on a double by Lindsey Mossman.

Wroten hit a three-run homer in the third as the Lancers tied it at 4-4.

Wroten had a three-run double during a five-run, fourth-inning rally that saw the Lancers send 10 batters to the plate.

Wroten now has 33 RBIs, eclipsing her total of 26 RBIs for all of last season.

"She's had a lot of big, big clutch hits for us this year, and a lot of them with two outs,'' Peters said. "I think that's what happens when you are confident, when you swing at pitches you can drive.''

Courtney Weilbacher led off the fifth inning by hitting a ball back to the mound that struck Mitts in the face.

"It deflected off her glove and hit her in the cheek,'' Peters said. "(There was) a lot of blood because we think she may have bit her cheek. We don't think there are any bones or anything involved.''

Mitts stayed in the game and got through the fifth inning. She left the game after giving up the back-to-back homers in the sixth.

"I think her adrenaline got her through that (fifth) inning,'' Peters said. "I told Alison that I'm really proud her because they hit the heck out of her in the first inning, and I really thought the next few innings she settled in.''

Sophomore Angela VanderPluym relieved Mitts and got the final five outs to preserve the win.

"She's a gamer,'' Peters said of VanderPluym. "She's a little bulldog. Every time we give her the ball, she takes it and she's ready to go out there and hit her spots."

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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