PLYMOUTH — Plymouth got on top early, then battled back and forth with Goshen for the Lady Pilgrims’ first Northern Lakes Conference win in a thriller at home in Centennial Park Monday.
Plymouth entered the sixth inning trailing 4-3, but Morgan O’Neal’s two-out, two-run inside-the-park homer pushed the Pilgrims into the lead, freshman reliever Haley Brown got the save with the Goshen go-ahead on second in the top of the seventh, and the home team held on for the 5-4 NLC win.
Britney Horvath started the pitching for Plymouth, keeping Goshen scoreless while striking out two in the top of the first.
O’Neal then opened the bottom of the inning with a double, and Bre Martin placed a slap hit right through the right side of the infield to score O’Neal. Martin stole her way to second base, advanced to third on a Bailey Hatfield single and eventually scored on a passed ball to give Plymouth a 2-0 lead.
The second inning displayed tight defense and little action, but Plymouth struck again in the third as Martin singled, Kailey Whitley legged out an infield hit, and Hatfield singled to knock in the Pilgrims’ third run of the night.
The visitors showed they still had a pulse in the top of the fourth, however, when Emily Mullet scored on a single from Britany Jones. Goshen scored again in the fifth and took a 4-3 lead with two runs in the top of the sixth on a single from Jessica DeStefanc, an RBI triple from Yadila Fabrates, and an infield single from Brittany Jones.
Plymouth entered the bottom of the sixth down a run but without any loss in determination. Brown entered the game for senior Horvath, and she started fast with a sixth inning single.
With two outs, O’Neal came to the plate already having gone 2-for-3 with two doubles on the day, and her day was not done yet. O’Neal blasted Taylor Caovette’s third offering to right center and took off running. Brown scored on the deep ball, and O’Neal’s wheels never stopped turning. She rounded third and headed home for an inside-the-park home run and what proved to be the game-winner.
The Pilgrims entered the seventh with a slim one-run lead and Brown inside the circle. Caovette drilled a ball right back to Brown, who made the play after taking the line drive off her shin. Lacee Mulcahey kept Goshen’s hopes alive legging out an infield single laced in right between the pitcher, short and third base, but Brown proved to be tough as she struck out Kaylee Shepherd for the second out of the frame.
It appeared Plymouth would escape seamlessly, but Goshen continued to fight. Emily Mullet was hit by a pitch, and then both Goshen base runners advanced on a wild pitch with Jessica DeStefanc at the plate. With runners on second and third, the Redskins looked to be making their final run, but Martin made the play on a grounder to second and flipped the ball to first baseman Katie Berg to finish the victory for the Lady Pilgrims.
Plymouth out-hit the visitors 11-8, and both teams recorded a pair of errors.
O’Neal led the Pilgrims at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. Martin was 2-for-3 with her two clutch hits and two runs in addition to a solid defensive effort, and Hatfield finished 3-for-4 at the plate with consistent outfield singles.
Plymouth moves to 2-9 overall with a 1-4 NLC mark and continues with a busy week. The Pilgrims travel to Wawasee on Wednesday before hosting Class 2A No. 1 Rochester in a non-conference game Thursday, then resume NLC play Friday at home against NorthWood.
Meanwhile, in Monday’s JV contest Emily Hopple threw a one-hitter and struck out 8, while the Plymouth offense laid down bunt after bunt on its way to an 11-2 win. Hopple continued to lead her team at the plate as well as in the circle, going 2-for-3 in the batter’s box.
• PLYMOUTH 5, CONCORD 4
Goshen: 000 112 0 — 4 8 2
Plymouth: 201 002 x — 5 11 2
Britney Horvath (W, 2-7), Haley Brown (SV); Taylor Caovette (L)
2B: Morgan O’Neal (P) 2
3B: Mulcahey (G)
HR: O’Neal (1) (P)
Record: Plymouth 2-9 (1-4 NLC)
JV score: Plymouth 11, Goshen 2