Falcons Edge Redskins in Showdown

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LANGHORNE – ‘Hit it to me.’
That was the only thought going through Kelsi Bunda’s head as Laura Altenburger stepped into the batter’s box in the seventh inning of Thursday’s SOL showdown between Pennsbury and Neshaminy.
It didn’t matter to the Falcons’ rightfielder that the Redskins had the tying run on third and the winning run on second with one out in a 2-1 game.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘I can make this play,’” Bunda said. “I knew if it was a high pop and I was far back enough that I could come through the ball and I could gun the girl out at home.”
The Falcons’ rightfielder got her wish as Altenburger lofted a fly ball to right that – off the bat, at least – appeared deep enough to score a run, but Bunda rifled a strike to catcher Danielle Fox who made the tag on the runner attempting to score from third for a game-ending double play that gave the Falcons the heartstopping 2-1 win.
 “It was a little nerveracking because it was far back,” said teammate D’Anna Devine, who had a pair of hits and scored a run. “But we practice our throws non-stop, and her throw was on the point.”
Anything less, and there could have been a completely different outcome.
“We said to the kids, ‘Up and down the lineup, they’re going to hit, they’re going to put the ball in play, and we have to play our best defensive game,’” Pennsbury coach Frank McSherry said. “We had a couple miscues, but overall, we played a really great defensive game.
“The kids did a really good job.”
On the other side of the diamond, the Redskins had to be wondering what they have to do to beat their archrivals.
“They got some hits and had one big hit, but you can’t give them anything,” Redskin coach Kathleen Houser said. “We had a bunch of errors, but we came back, and it came right down to the wire. I’m proud of the way our girls played.”
This is the game both teams wait for, and unlike many hyped games, this one almost always lives up to its billing.
“It’s so much fun,” Devine said. “You can’t even describe it. The nerves are kicking in as soon as we got here. This is all we talk about the whole week.”
“This is the biggest game of our lives,” Bunda said.
And nothing is bigger in a big game than getting on the scoreboard first.
Devine made sure that happened when the Falcons’ speedy leadoff batter slapped a ball into shallow left and turned it into a double.
“She can do it all,” Houser said of Devine.
Devine moved up to third on Alyssa Shirley’s bunt, and Becca Erb brought her home when she ripped a double into left center.
 “That was huge,” McSherry said of his team’s early 1-0 lead. “We’re visitors – score first. That’s the only way you can think.
“That’s what our goal was – to come out and score early.”
The Falcons threatened in the second when Fox singled down the right field line to lead off the inning, and – after Savanna Grantham’s sacrifice – found herself on second with one out. The Redskins, despite committing an error, escaped unscathed.
They weren’t as fortunate in the third.
Shirley – who had a pair of hits - opened the inning with a perfectly-placed bunt single down the third base line, and she immediately stole second. Two outs later, she scored on Mackenzie Obert’s bloop single over the left side of the infield, giving the Falcons a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, the Falcons turned a sharp fly ball to center into an inning-ending double play after the Redskins put their leadoff batter aboard. That could have deflated the Redskins, but they came right back the next inning.
Courtney Clee lined a single to center to open the fourth inning. It was the first hit of the game for the Redskins. She advanced to second on Sam Creamer’s bunt. Erin Quense drew a walk, and the Redskins got on the scoreboard when Alex Bell singled over third. An error loaded the bases with one out, but that’s where the rally ended.
Sarah Gosselin flagged down Sarah McGowan’s screaming line to center for the second out, and the inning ended on a fly ball to Bunda in right.
“We hit shots right at people, which is a shame because a foot left or a foot right – we win that game,” Houser said.  
McGowan retired nine of 11 batters she faced after the fourth inning.
“Sarah got stronger throughout the game,” Houser said of her mound ace. “She looked great one through seven.”
 Kait Schilling was in some kind of groove for the Falcons as well, retiring eight in a row heading into the bottom of the seventh.
“Kait got some pitches when she needed them,” McSherry said. “She forced a couple of mishits. They don’t always have to be strikeouts.”
The seventh inning drama began when Kelsey Ryan led off with a single to center. She moved up to second on a wild pitch and raced to third on a groundout.
It was safe all around when – on Brianna Guidos’ grounder back to the mound – Schilling faked the throw to first and looked to third where Ryan was holding. Guidos stole second, putting runners on second and third with one out, but an inning of great promise for the Redskins came to an abrupt halt, thanks to Bunda’s catch and strike to the plate.
“The kid made a great throw,” Houser said. “That’s what you have to do. You have to make that play.
“We had to take that chance, and the kid made a good play. It should never have come down to the last inning. We should have hit like that the whole time.”
NOTES: The Redskins were without shortstop Christina Udris, who injured her knee in last week’s win over Truman.  “She’s that missing piece because now we have to move kids,” said Houser, who moved Ryan from third base to short and Altenburger from the outfield to third. “For her to go down - it upset our kids. She has been a four-year starter and our four hitter. It’s devastating.”
Pennsbury          101 000 000   2-8-1
Neshaminy         000 100 000   1-3-2
Pennsbury: D’Anna Devine 2b 4 1 2 0; Alyssa Shirley dp 3 1 2 0; Becca Erb 3b 4 0 1 1; Kelsi Bunda rf 3 0 0 0; Mackenzie Obert ss 3 0 1 1; Danielle Fox c 3 0 1 0; Savanna Grantham 1b 2 0 0 0; Sarah Gosselin cf 3 0 0 0; Jess Greenwald lf 3 0 1 0; Kait Schilling p 0 0 0 0.
TOTALS 28 2 8 2.
Neshaminy: Courtney Clee 2b 3 1 1 0 ; Sam Creamer rf 2 0 0 0; Erin Quense c 2 0 0 0; Alexa Bell cf 3 0 1 1; Kelsey Ryan ss 3 0 1 0; Sarah McGowan p 3 0 0 0; Brianna Guidos 1b 2 0 0 0; Laura Altenburger 3b 2 0 0 0; Brittany Guidos dp 2 0 0 0. TOTALS 22 1 3 1.
E-Neshaminy 2, Pennsbury 1. DP-Pennsbury 2. LOB-Pennsbury 7, Neshaminy 4. 2B-Devine, Erb. SB-Shirley, Br.Guidos.
                IP            H             R             ER           BB           SO
Schilling (W)       7              3              1              1              2              2
McGowan (L)     7              8              2              2              0              6