Penn Manor edges out Hempfield on senior night
MILLERSVILLE — It was just one game, but it played-out like the ONLY game.
What’s more, it was a last home game for a group of seniors who ultimately made it a night to remember.
Bri Wood-Hickey’s infield grounder scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning, Danielle Wright made a series of big-time defensive plays in the outfield, and sophomore pitcher Brittany Hook held down a powerful Hempfield lineup as the Penn Manor Comets took a key Section One clash over the Knights, 2-1, Wednesday evening.
After Hempfield tied the score at one run apiece in the top of the sixth inning, Penn Manor’s Addy Long led-off the bottom of the seventh inning with a dribbler down the third-base line, moving to the second as the throw from catcher Kylie Shreiner to first baseman Kara Cook went wide for a hard-luck error.
Julia Tappany sacrificed pinch-runner Cherish Frick to third base before Wood-Hickey grounded the decisive offering from Hempfield ace Lauren Lichtenwalner toward Cook at first, permitting Frick to score the game-winner.
“It was low and outside,” Wood-Hickey said of the pitch. “I knew if I hit it to the right side Cherish would score from third regardless. The first baseman got it and her first reaction was to get me out at first, so obviously the runner at third was going to score.”
While Wood-Hickey was the walk-off hero, the Comet defense nearly helped an early 1-0 lead—courtesy of Pam Perez’ third-inning triple, scoring on a throwing error—stand up.
“We just really wanted this for the seniors,” Hook said, after allowing five hits, striking-out six. “The one goal for me this year was to just beat Hempfield for the seniors because me and my catcher (Sam Duplissey) are really close and that’s the one thing I wanted for her.”
Duplissey stood tall in the sixth when Lichtenwalner, fresh off her game-tying double, raced home on a single to center from Cook (2-for-3). But Wright came up firing and Duplissey applied the tag for a bang-bang play at the plate.
“I just hear Pam (Perez), the right-fielder, screaming ‘Home, Home,’” Wright recalled. “I just picked it up and knew I had to get it home because it was so close. I saw (the umpire) ask Sam for the ball and I knew she had it, I was so pumped, I was already jumping before he called her out. I was stoked.”
Hempfield deserves credit for battling hard, paced by Lichtenwalner in the circle. The senior allowed just three hits, giving up two unearned runs in a hard-luck loss.
Penn Manor (15-2 overall, 13-1 Section One) and Hempfield (13-5, 12-2) had previously qualified for the L-L League tournament set for Saturday, May 14. But the Comets are aiming for their first Section One title since 1999.
“We told them don’t be surprised if Hempfield hasn’t lost next time around,” said Penn Manor coach Dave Stokes regarding his team having dropped a 6-2 decision to the Knights on April 8, before Hempfield lost a crossover contest to Solanco a week ago.
“This is the first time Penn Manor has been in first place this late in the season since 1999,” Stokes said. “We have more work to do. We’ve been emphasizing to the kids we’re not looking forward, we’re taking game by game or even breaking down pitch by pitch and that’s been the philosophy that they’ve all adopted. They just have a confident way about them.”
Penn Manor 2, Hempfield 1
HM 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1 5 2
PM 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 — 2 3 1
SO-BB — HM Lauren Lichtenwalner 5-0; PM Brittany Hook 6-0
WP — Hook; LP — Lichtenwalner
2B — HM 1 (Lauren Lichtenwalner)
3B — PM 1 (Pam Perez)