CUMBERLAND — Sierra Minnick poured buckets of water on a potential fire and Fort Hill used sharp defense to keep Allegany off the base paths as the Sentinels opened the Cumberland City League with a 9-1 win over the Campers Friday afternoon at Long Field in Constitution Park.
Minnick, a junior, entered during the second inning when Allegany began to threaten, but got the Sentinels out of the jam by allowing only one run. Finishing out the rest of the contest, Minnick had only two strikeouts, but allowed two hits the rest of the way.
Led by shortstop Alexis Kimmell, the Fort Hill defense showed both range and soft hands while fielding, and making strong throws all afternoon to finish the day without an error.
Allegany could not say the same thing about its defense, committing five errors that led to five unearned runs.
Both teams got one runner on base in the first inning, but failed to move them around. The Campers struck first by jumping on Fort Hill starting pitcher Michala Garrison with the first batter of the second inning.
Jasmine Benson hit a ground ball between shortstop and the second-base bag for a leadoff single, moved to second when Kyleigh Sellers drew a walk and advanced to third when Alexis Robinette was hit by a pitch.
Fort Hill struck out the next two Allegany batters, but uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Allegany to score during the second at bat.
Fort Hill Head Coach Mike Bittner then wasted no time in going to the mound to remove his starter and replace her with Minnick.
“It wasn’t part of the plan to take her out that early,” explained Bittner. “Michala is usually strong early on, but we didn’t want to wait too long. If Sierra would have struggled we would have gone away from her pretty quickly too, but she pitched phenomenal in relief. She saved us.”
After walking a batter, Minnick persuaded Brooke Dougherty to fly out to right field to end the inning.
Much like the Campers did in the top of the second, Fort Hill got going directly in the bottom of the inning when Morgan Cranford walked, Garrison was hit by a pitch and Sarah Lowery singled to load the bases. After a ground out to the pitcher, Alyssia Whitacre hit a ball back up the box that deflected off of pitcher Alexis Robinette’s glove and past the shortstop to drive in two runs. The Sentinels got a third run when Shania James drew a bases load walk.
Fort Hill stretched the score to 7-1 during the fourth inning on a triple from Cranford, and error in the outfield which allowed three runs to score.
“It was very uncharacteristic of an Allegany defense to play like that,” said Bittner. “(Allegany coach) Rick Twigg has an excellent staff, and that won’t happen again the next time we play them. He’ll have them fundamentally sound, because without those errors it’s no more than a two or three run lead for us.
“We played good defense in our first two games and we carried it over to today,” he added. “Alexis was outstanding at shortstop and saved us multiple runs.”
Fort Hill finished its scoring with two runs in the sixth. James doubled and scored on a wild pitch and Lowery singled in a run. Lowery and Minnick had two hits apiece as part of Fort Hill’s eight-hit performance.
Tori Bohrer led the Campers by hitting a double and a single for two of her team’s three hits.
Fort Hill (3-1, 2-0 Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference, 1-0 City) plays Southern at home on Monday. Allegany (1-2, 0-2, 0-1) travels to play Hampshire on Tuesday.
Chris Appel is a sportswriter for the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.