ELIZABETHTOWN — The visiting Lady Patriots jumped on East Bladen for three early runs, then had to bowl over the Lady Eagles’ catcher to score the winning run late, giving Pender County a 4-3 Four County Conference win on Thursday.
East Bladen nearly got out of the first frame unscathed. But after setting down the first two Pender County hitters, two straight singles was followed by a long home run that gave the Lady Patriots a quick 3-0 edge.
The Lady Eagles couldn’t threaten home plate over the first three innings, but in the fourth frame East Bladen got a singles from Lexi Dawson and Abbey Norris and an error filled the bases. Yolanda Costen then worked the Pender County pitcher for a walk that brought Dawson home and cut the deficit to 3-1.
In the fifth inning, the Lady Eagles scratched for two more runs to knot the game when an error put Abby Ward on base and Dawson followed with an RBI single. A sacrifice bunt chased Dawson to third and, moments later, Anna Brewer scored Dawson with a fielder’s choice.
After a scoreless sixth, East Bladen had nearly the same situation as they did in the first. The Lady Patriots, with two out and a runner in scoring position, got another clutch hit that sent the base-runner streaking for home. The throw and the runner reached home at about the same time and a collision knocked the ball free for the go-ahead run.
East Bladen could not answer in the home half.
“It was very encouraging (for us) because Pender has always had a good program,” East Bladen coach Patty Evers said. “But we have got to be smarter at the plate … and we need to focus on getting better mentally.”
About the winning run, Evers showed surprise that the play stood.
“… our catcher (Lexi Dawson) had the ball and the girl ran her over without attempting to slide, and she was awarded the plate,” Evers said.
Huestess took the hard-luck loss, going seven innings and giving up 10 hits, no walks and two hit batters.
Dawson led the Lady Eagles at the plate, going 2-for-4.
— In Whiteville on Thursday, the Knights battled Fairmont in a non-conference match at Land O Lakes for a 28-stroke win, 337-365.
Kayla Thompson led West Bladen and was the medalist for the day after carding an 80. Close behind were her teammates, Gage Bailey with an 83 and Mason Smith with an 84.
Brett Jackson finished fifth with a 90 for the Knights.