No. 1 North County loses first, 3-1, to No. 4 'Cats

Defense, Grace's pitching lift Arundel to ninth win

April 15, 1999|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Arundel was the first to find the secret to beating No. 1-ranked North County this season.

Early runs, strong pitching from senior Soraya Grace throughout, and some fine defense late provided the No. 4 Wildcats with a satisfying 3-1 win over the previously unbeaten Knights in Gambrills yesterday.

The Wildcats improved to 9-1 on the season with North County dropping to 8-1 overall.

Arundel coach Paul Yannuzzi couldn't have asked for anything more and said the 3-0 lead after two innings was the biggest key to victory.

"That was nice," he said. "It put the pressure on them and off us."

Junior designated hitter Kristin Hunter provided a good example of how potent the Arundel offense can be. In only her second start of the season, batting second in the order yesterday, she singled and scored the game's opening run in the first inning and then found the right-center gap for a run-scoring triple in the second inning to help give the Wildcats a 3-0 cushion.

"I wasn't hitting very well in the pregame, so I was just trying to get my bat on the ball," said Hunter. "They're No. 1 and we're No. 4, so we were glad to win this one. We were fired up."

And while the Wildcats were, indeed, fired up from the start, North County coach Brian Love had the chore of getting his Knights up for a second straight day after a well-earned 1-0 win over No. 3 Severna Park on Tuesday.

The Knights got one run back in the third, when Chrissy Suit led off with a single and later came across on an error, but Grace and the Arundel defense had the final word.

Grace allowed four hits, struck out four, and got major defensive support in the fifth and sixth innings to preserve the win.

With a runner on and no outs in the fifth, senior Valerie McDowell fielded a ground ball at second, tagged the runner as she was moving before throwing to first for the double play.

With another runner on in the sixth, sophomore Alexis Viera threw out Brittany Boyd from deep short. Ashley Hines then made a nice grab of a liner to center field by pitcher Amy Balonis to end the inning.

"Better in April than May," said Love, whose Knights were playing their fifth game in six days. "There's a lot of good teams in the county, and Arundel came right at us. Grace moved the ball around real well on us, and she had a real strong defense behind her. They deserved it."

Arundel senior catcher Bre Kitchen walked with the bases loaded to score Hunter in the first inning before Sarah Polger's bloop single to right made it 2-0.

In the second inning, McDowell beat out a slap hit down the third-base line before scoring on Hunter's triple.

After a tough start, Balonis settled in nicely on the mound for the Knights, retiring the Wildcats in order in the final three innings.

No. 3 Severna Park 3, No. 7 Glen Burnie 0: Sophomore hurler Lauren Pollock went the distance for the shutout, backed by a mistake-free defense as the Falcons improved to 8-1 and the Gophers slipped to 4-2.

Pollock struck out five, walked none, and scattered six hits. At bat, she was 2-for-3 and scored a run.

"It was just good, quality pitching, and they didn't give us anything defensively," said Glen Burnie coach Bob Broccolino.

Pub Date: 4/15/99

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