HAMILTON – The Hamilton Lady Lions have turned walkoff wins into a fashion.
They grabbed their first one of this postseason last Tuesday night, however, rallying twice to first force extras, then to grab the 9-7 win over Myrtle in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs on Hannah Rooks’ walkoff, two-run double in the eighth inning.
Hamilton moves on to face Division 4-1A rival Vardaman in the second round.
“We don’t make anything easy,” Hamilton coach Bryan Loague said. “We dropped a couple of pop ups foul, and both of those runners scored, and we had a double play ball early in the game where we missed the bag. We didn’t play real well, but it’s a Game 1 win, and we’ll take it.”
In the top of the first, Anna Claire Stahl worked around an error, and the Lady Lions took advantage of one by Myrtle in the bottom half to go up 1-0. Tori Harrison was hit by a pitch, and Rooks’ bunt base hit was thrown away allowing the run to score.
The Lady Hawks pushed ahead 2-1 in the third on a pair of errors after a Kinsley Gordon single.
The Lady Lions answered with three runs of their own. Stahl blistered a triple through the gap in right center leading off, then Rooks reached on an error in the outfield to tie the game. Lacey Holley drew a walk, and Carley Reeves sent both runs home when she burned the center fielder for a two-run double.
Hamilton padded its lead with a run in the fifth. Rooks reached on an error leading off, then Holley singled and Reeves hit into a fielder’s choice. Icie Cockerham drew a walk to load the bases, and Faith Fontenot grabbed the RBI with a sacrifice fly.
Myrtle pushed two runs closer in the sixth after a base hit, a walk and an error.
The Lady Lions grabbed one of those runs back in the bottom of the inning on Harrison’s RBI double.
Myrtle took the lead in the top of the seventh in a comeback that featured two triples and an RBI single for the go-ahead run.
Hamilton clawed back to force extras and tie the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the inning. Reeves reached on an error with one out, and her pinch runner Jaydan Ray scored on a wild pitch. The Lady Lions nearly walked it off as Cockerham followed with a base hit and Fontenot was intentionally walked, but Myrtle got out of the jam with back-to-back fielder’s choices.
With the international tiebreaker in effect, the Lady Hawks went up 8-7 in the top of the eighth on a passed ball.
In the bottom half, pinch runner Kealy Shields was placed on second to run for Taylor Brock. Stahl sacrificed the runner over to third, Harrison drew a walk, and Rooks rocketed her double into left field for the win.
“We got some big hits tonight,” Loague said. “We didn’t have a lot of hits overall. Hannah needed that hit tonight. The pitching we’ve seen all year has been about 15 miles an hour faster, and we knew it would be slow. She kept us off balance and didn’t do a bad job. We have to hit it better though because we live and die by hitting it well.”
Game 2: Hamilton 8, Myrtle 1
The Lady Lions picked up where they left off, securing the series win and the sweep with an 8-1 win on the road on Thursday afternoon.
Third baseman Faith Fontenot slammed a pair of two-run home runs in the win.
Myrtle took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but it was Fontenot’s first long ball that put the Lady Lions ahead for good in the second inning. Caylin Ferraro followed her with a double, but Hamilton was unable to add to the lead in that frame.
In the fourth, Taylor Brock joined in the scoring with her RBI single to plate Fontenot, who had drawn a walk. Anna Claire Stahl made it back-to-back hits, and Tori Harrison picked up the RBI with a line-drive RBI double to make it 4-1.
Carley Reeves doubled with one out in the fifth, but the Lady Hawks worked around her hit with a pair of groundouts. In the sixth, Hamilton added a run with two outs on back-to-back doubles by Stahl and Harrison, the latter’s driving in the run.
The Lady Lions grabbed three insurance runs in the seventh. Lacey Holley drew a walk leading off, and Icie Cockerham drove her in with an RBI infield single.
Fontenot capped off the night with her second two-run blast.