Once again, it was time for Columbus North’s Denisa Brooks to apply pressure, and visiting Bloomington North just didn’t handle it.
Brooks scored on a wild pitch Thursday to give the Bull Dogs a 3-2, eight-inning victory against the visiting Cougars in the Conference Indiana opener.
A speedy second baseman, Brooks opened the eighth inning with a perfect bunt past the pitcher’s mound and toward the shortstop, who had no chance to throw Brooks out.
Columbus North’s Katie Prall laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Brooks to second.
Bloomington North freshman pitcher McKenzey Ridge, who allowed only four hits, then threw two wild pitches, one allowing Brooks to move to third and then a ball in the dirt which went all the way to the backstop and allowed Brooks to cross the plate with the game-winning run.
It was an exciting end to a game the Bull Dogs (3-3 overall, 1-0 Conference Indiana) almost let slip away despite a solid pitching performance by Molly Crowe, who tossed all eight innings and allowed six hits.
Crowe only allowed one hit after Bloomington North tied the game 2-2 with a run in the third inning. She faced just 16 batters over the final five innings.
“I feel I get in a rhythm early in the game,” Crowe said. “But I get more competitive as the game goes on.”
In the bottom of the seventh, Crowe almost ended the game with a walk-off home run. Her drive to left center hit the top of the fence and resulted in a double.
“I’m not going to lie,” Crowe said. “I thought it was out.”
With one out, Columbus North looked to be in great position when Tommi Sowers hit a sinking liner to left field. Bloomington North left fielder Natalie Crane charged the ball and got a glove on it, causing Crowe to hesitate midway between second and third.
When the ball popped out of Crane’s glove, Crowe tried to make it to third and was thrown out. Ridge worked out of trouble.
Columbus North scored two runs in the opening inning by putting pressure on Bloomington North’s defense, which committed three errors in the inning.
Brooks was safe at first when the Cougars’ first baseman dropped the throw on a bunt. Then Prall hit a ground to third that was thrown away into right field. Another error trying to get the ball back to the infield from right field allowed Brooks to score.
Christine Bombardiere drove in the second run with a ground out.
From there, North’s offense floundered against Ridge as the Bull Dogs had five pop-up outs and stuck out three times looking.
“We couldn’t get the ball down after the first inning,” Columbus North coach Jerry Burton said. “We have to work hard on our hitting to get less pop-ups and fly balls. We have to cut down on our swings and make better selections on our pitches.”
Burton did compliment Ridge.
“I went over the told her she pitched a really good game,” Burton said. “I think both pitchers got on a rhythm as the game went on and they both got comfortable.”
Bloomington North dropped to 3-2 and 0-1.