CUMBERLAND — Fort Hill led for all of about 15 minutes Monday evening against Allegany.
Fortunately for the Sentinels, they just so happened to be the final 15 minutes as they scored four times in the sixth inning before breezing past the Campers in the seventh for a 7-5 win and a spot in Wednesday’s Class 1A West Section championship game at Mountain Ridge on Wednesday.
Allegany had the advantage of getting warmed up by playing a couple of innings of a suspended game with Northern, and was able to score early against the Sentinels. Fort Hill countered with a run here-and-there over the first few innings, before four runners crossed the plate in the sixth.
“I just had a feeling we were going to get one of those innings where we put a big number up,” said Fort Hill head coach Mike Bittner. “I don’t know why I felt it, as Allegany was playing good defense and pitching really tough, but these girls are gamers and I knew they had it in them.”
Trailing 5-3, Michala Garrison started the Sentinels’ sixth with an infield single and Alesha Jackson drew a walk. Morgan Cranford took a pitch off the elbow to load the bases, and when Emma Bauer drew a five-pitch walk Fort Hill had cut the lead to 5-4.
A wild pitch to pinch-hitter Alyssia Whitacre allowed Jackson to score and knot things 5-5, and Fort Hill took its first lead when Sarah Lowery drove in Cranford with a fielder’s choice to second base.
It was Lowery whom Bittner credits with setting the table mentally for the Sentinels.
“After we got down early I called the girls over between innings and told them we just had to keep playing our game and that we would scratch our way back into this. Sarah looked at me and said, ‘Forget clawing our way back. Let’s go ahead and bust this thing wide open.’”
Fort Hill scored a final run in the sixth when Bauer came home on an error to make it 7-5.
The Sentinels then wasted no time attacking the Campers in the seventh, needing just six pitches to get through the inning and secure the win.
Sierra Minnick got a complete-game victory despite recording only one strikeout. She also didn’t allow a walk, though she hit one batter.
Allegany was able to parlay a 10-3 win over Northern into a hot start against the Sentinels. The Campers and Huskies began play in the opening round last week, but were delayed due to bad weather. They finished that game today, resuming in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“The plan was to start with three quick outs against Northern, score three quick runs to get a 10-run lead and then get the three more outs and avoid the last inning,” said Rick Twigg, Allegany’s head coach. “That’s not how it worked out against Northern, but we still got off to a great start against Fort Hill.”
The Allegany nine opened its half of the first with two quick outs, but got a double from Courtney Landis and a single from Ashleigh Eisentrout to score the first run. Landis finished with a double and a single to lead the Campers at the plate, and joined Garrison (two singles) as the only players with multiple hits.
The Campers took a 4-0 lead with a three-spot in the second inning, getting a triple from Maddie Leighty that drove in Kyleigh Sellers and Brooke Dougherty. Leighty scored on a bunt by Talia Logsdon.
Tori Bohrer took the loss for the Campers, but pitched three strong innings in relief of starter Alexis Robinette before stumbling in the sixth. The sophomore came on after Fort Hill opened the third inning with two hits and had already scored a run to allow just one more run before keeping the Sentinels in check until the sixth.
Fort Hill cut the lead to 5-3 in the third when a double by Shania James was joined by singles from Alexis Kimmel and Garrison to score two runs for the Sentinels.
Fort Hill (14-6) travels to Frostburg to take on the Miners at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Allegany finished 12-8.
Chris Appel is a sportswriter for the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.