Pallotti ends Spalding's 19-game win streak, 4-3 Scores 4 unearned runs after sixth-inning error

April 21, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

A kind of hush fell over the Archbishop Spalding bench yesterday when the Cavaliers realized exactly what the Pallotti Panthers had done to them at Supplee Field in Laurel.

Pallotti had not only scored four unearned runs with two outs in the last of the sixth inning to beat top-ranked Spalding and Crystal Ray, 4-3, but the Panthers put an end to a 19-game winning streak and visions of a second unbeaten season in three years for the Cavaliers (12-1).

Spalding entered the game with a 50-2 record since the end of the 1993 season.

"It's a stunner," said Ray, who struck out 12 hitters and had tied the Panthers up in knots for five innings with a 62-mph fastball, a changeup and a drop ball.

Pallotti, 11-1 and ranked seventh in the D.C. area, looked as if it would never be able to score off Ray in clutch situations. She had retired two straight hitters in the sixth with runners on first and third, and needed only to set down Lisa Ragusa to get out of the inning with a 3-0 lead.

Ragusa, the No. 7 hitter in the lineup, had struck out twice, but she lined a single to right to break up the shutout and give the Panthers a lot of confidence.

Becky Horning followed with a run-scoring single to right to reduce the lead to 3-2 and Lauren Evans sent a grounder through third baseman Heather Fox's legs for an error that allowed the tying run to score and put runners on second and third.

Then Ray issued only her second walk of the day, to Rose Ruddy, to load the bases and bring up Elizabeth Fallon.

Fallon worked the count to 3-2 and appeared to have struck out on a near-perfect pitch by Ray that should have sent the game to the seventh tied at 3.

But the pitch was called a ball, and Fallon went to first with a walk that pushed across the deciding run. Spalding was then retired in order in the top of the seventh.

"That 3-2 pitch hit [Spalding catcher] Beth Yourishin's glove without her having to move it," said Ray. "I can't believe it wasn't a strike. The umpire suddenly changed his strike zone in that inning. Errors, bad luck and the umps killed us today."

Even Pallotti coach Dan Hogan said: "I'd have to say that 3-2 pitch [to Fallon] was a strike. The umpiring was inconsistent all day."

All four Pallotti runs were unearned because Pallotti pitcher Ali Miller began the inning by reaching on a rare, two-base throwing error by two-time All-Metro first-team shortstop Crystal Henderson.

Chrissy O'Hagan followed with a ground-ball single to left, putting runners on first and third, but the inning should have been over when Kelli Leachman grounded out to Ray and Rita Horning struck out.

"It's hard to swallow this loss," said Spalding coach Linda Taylor. "But we'll be back Monday ready to play. It's so tough to go unbeaten. I can't say enough about Crystal Ray the way she still had confidence in her changeup all the way into the sixth. I don't think she was tired."

Pub Date: 4/21/96

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