Jackson, River Hill strand Howard

Young pitcher escapes jams, frustrates Lions, 4-3

April 08, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

River Hill sophomore pitcher Shannon Jackson walked eight, hit two batters and threw nine wild pitches yesterday against visiting Howard.

And won.

"She pitches well enough to win," said River Hill coach Dave Vitagliano after the No. 14-ranked Hawks beat Howard for the fifth straight time, 4-3, to stay unbeaten. "When it looks the bleakest, she seems to come up with the pitch to get the hitter out."

No. 10 Howard (2-2 county) loaded the bases in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings but scored only once in those situations -- when one of Jackson's wild pitches let in a run in the fourth. The Lions, who have lost three straight one-run games at River Hill, stranded 11 runners.

"We definitely had our opportunities," said Howard coach Dave Vezzi, whose team scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings to take a 3-0 lead. "We just didn't come through with a clutch hit when we needed it."

Howard's defense also shared some of the blame. The Lions committed four errors, including two in the fifth inning when River Hill scored three runs for a 4-3 lead.

"We had enough offense to to win the game," Vezzi said, "but our defense let us down."

Jackson walked two, hit a batter and had two wild pitches in the sixth inning but got Shannon Tracy to fly out to center to end the bases-loaded threat.

Howard pitcher Kelly O'Neill, who struck out seven, had her third 1-2-3 inning of the game to send it quickly to the seventh.

Jackson retired the first two hitters in the seventh, but after Lyndsey Hasiuk singled, Jackson walked the next two batters.

Sarah Berg came to the plate having walked her two previous times. She worked the count to 3 and 1, then took a called strike.

"I knew I had to pitch a strike, and if I didn't, things could get interesting," said Jackson, who despite her control problems struck out nine Howard batters.

Berg hit the next pitch high down the left-field line, where Marie Ziesat made an easy catch.

River Hill (6-0, 4-0 county) scored on a ground out in the fourth, then used two hits, two Howard errors and two bunts to go ahead in the fifth.

Aneesha Griffin's single scored Robin Smith, who had doubled, for River Hill's first run in the fifth. Griffin stole second, then moved to third when Amanda Bile reached on an infield error. Bile stole second on a throw that was cut off.

Killi Myers bunted down the third-base line, but third baseman Jessica Burns didn't realize Griffin was running, and her throw home was late.

Vitagliano said Griffin "broke too early" on the play and that she was supposed to run home only after the throw to first base.

Carrie Kelehan followed with another bunt, and this time O'Neill fielded it and faked a throw to first. She quickly threw to third to get Bile, but the low throw got past Burns. Bile scored easily with the winning run.

"We work hard at the little game," said Vitagliano. "The fact that we get our bunts down doesn't come by accident."

Pub Date: 4/08/99

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