DUBLIN — For the second straight game, though nearly two weeks apart, Taylor Stephens and Alana Ludlum teamed up to put the finishing touches on a 1-0 win for the Lady Knights of West Bladen.
The duo pulled off their latest feat Monday in extra innings against East Columbus.
Neither team could put together any kind of offensive outburst, as both West Bladen and the visiting Lady Gators recorded just three hits against solid pitching.
The Lady Knights, however, had to survive a pair of East Columbus uprisings in regulation to keep the game scoreless. The Lady Gators put two runners on base with no outs in the third inning before Nicole Wyatt fanned the next three hitters. One inning later, East Columbus filled the bags with one out without the benefit of a hit, but Wyatt again ended the threat by striking out the next two hitters.
With the game knotted at 0-0, the two teams headed to extras, where the Lady Gators again threatened in the eighth inning — only to be thwarted by West Bladen’s alert coach.
East Columbus’ leadoff hitter reached on an error that put her at second base. She then advanced to third on an infield out and came home on a sacrifice fly. But Stephens immediately called for an appeal, claiming the runner had left third base too soon.
She was right.
The run was waved off and the runner was called out, leaving the game still tied.
“It was really obvious the girl left early,” coach Stephens said.
In the top of the ninth, the Lady Gators were at it again. This time they put two runners in scoring position with one out, but Taylor Stephens corralled a hot grounder to third and, after a pump fake throw to first, dove to the bag and nipped the runner trying to get back.
“Not knowing what was going to happen, of course, we had told Taylor that, no matter what, don’t let that runner come home,” coach Stephens said. “Their coach told her after that she had faked out his runner and him with the play.”
A groundout ended the uprising and set up West Bladen’s grand finale.
After two were out in the bottom of the ninth, Taylor Stephens bunted for a single, bringing Ludlum to the plate. The freshman put the bat squarely on the ball and rocketed a triple to the fence in left-center, easily sending the speedy Stephens — and the entire Lady Knights team — to the plate for the 1-0 win.
Ludlum finished the game 2-for-3, while Wyatt earned her third straight win in the circle by giving up three hits, hit two batters, walked one and fanned nine in going the distance.
“We did get a couple of sharp hits to the outfield that they ran down, and we had a couple they snared on the infield,” coach Stephens said. “So they played some very good defense against us.”
— In Pembroke on Wednesday, Nicole Wyatt got nicked for an earned run in the bottom of the first, but went on to pitch West Bladen to a 6-1 non-conference win over Purnell Swett.
The Lady Knights got all the runs they would need in the top of the first when they plated three, with RBI coming from Josie Ludlum, Morgan Sweeney and Laiykin Pait.
A double by Courtney Thompson in the second drove home a run.
Wyatt raised her record to 4-0 with the complete-game four-hitter. She fanned five.
In Dublin on Monday, West Bladen scored in each of the first five innings — including an eruption for seven runs in the fourth frame — to knock off visiting East Columbus in a non-conference tilt.
Single runs in the first and second gave West Bladen a 2-0 lead, but the Gators plated three runs in the top of the third to take a temporary 3-2 edge.
The Knights scored a pair of runs in the third to regain the lead at 4-3, but East Columbus scored three more runs in the fourth and took a 6-4 advantage.
West Bladen all but put an end to the see-saw affair by sending seven runners across the plate in the home half of the fourth frame and building an 11-6 margin.
The Gators pushed one more run across in the fifth to cut the deficit to 11-7, but West Bladen scored three more runs in the fifth to complete the scoring.
On the hill, Travis Bowen earned the win in relief, pitching the fourth and fifth innings.
Trevor Lesane led West Bladen at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a triple, double and RBI. C.J. Singletary had a triple and two RBI, while Liston Britt had an RBI and Colby McLean added an RBI.
— In Elizabethtown on Wednesday, East Bladen gave up six early runs and went on to drop a 13-2 verdict to visiting West Columbus.
The Eagles scored single runs in the fourth and fifth frames — Nathan Sanders had the RBI in the fourth and the fifth-inning run scored on an error.
In Dublin on Monday, the Knights opened Four County Conference play with a 9-0 sweep of visiting Wallace-Rose Hill.
The singles action, West Bladen earned a trio of 6-0, 6-0 whitewashes: Luke Taylor at No. 1, Bryan Labra at No. 4 and Brandon Thompson at No. 6. Victor Jacome, playing at No. 3, barely missed out on a clean sweep when he won 6-0, 6-1.
In doubles, the Knights duo of Jacome and Labra at No. 2 didn’t give up a point and won 8-0, while Thompson and Colton Bryant teamed up at No. 3 and also earned a shutout win.
West Bladen is now 2-0 overall, 1-0 in the conference.
— In a non-conference doubleheader on Wednesday, the Knights fell to Purnell Swett, 8-1 and 7-2.
In the first match, only the No. 2 doubles team of Victor Jacome and Bryan Labra could post a win, taking the “W” with an 8-4 margin.
In the second match, No. 1 doubles team of Luke Taylor and Adam Rutland earned an 8-1 win, while Jacome and Labra got another win at No. 2, 8-0.
— In Teachey on Wednesday, East Bladen opened Four County Conference play with a 7-1 win over Wallace-Rose Hill.
In singles action, Robert Meggs nearly earned a shutout win at No. 5 with a 6-1, 6-0 victory, while Jacob Hatchell won his match at No. 1, 6-1 and 6-1, as the Eagles took five of the six matches.