Runs in the sun

"Maybe it was the sun in the outfielder's eyes. Maybe it was the breaks evening out. Or maybe it was just meant to be.Whatever the explanation, the Bainbridge fastpitchers rallied for four runs with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning Monday afternoon to take a thrilling 4-3 win over visiting Bremerton. It was the resurgent Spartans fifth win of the season, equalling their combined victory total for the last two years.Bainbridge came back to earth Thursday, dropping a doubleheader at perennial power Port Angeles.In the Bremerton game, the visitors did a fair imitation of the small-ball Mariners. Although the Knight hitters couldn't catch up with Brooke Hilton's power pitching, they parlayed bunts, walks, aggressive baserunning and perfect defense into a 3-0 lead going into the last inning.A one-out single by Chrissy Haugen and a two-out walk to Bianca Quezada looked like too little, too late.But then the roof caved in.Anne Vail's grounder to first was bobbled, and she was safe as Haugen scored. Carolyn McKenzie lofted a fly to short center. The Bremerton outfielder, who was looking straight into the sun, got the tip of her glove on it, but the ball dropped, giving Bainbridge runners on second and third.Up came sophomore Amanda Perna.I was so nervous, she said. I couldn't believe it when they dropped Carolyn's ball, but then it was up to me. I had been so far ahead of the Bremerton pitcher all day, so I was telling myself to wait.And wait she did. She drilled the third pitch into left field, just over the head of Bremerton's outstanding shortstop. Vail and McKenzie easily beat the throw to the plate, and the players poured onto the field to celebrate an almost unbelievable win.It was right down the middle, and it went off the sweet part of the bat, Perna said.While the Bremerton hitters were overpowered by Hilton, who fanned 10, Bainbridge's hitters had no trouble making contact. But sharply hit ground balls to the left side got them nowhere, as Bremerton shortstop Jamie Satterfield made one outstanding defensive play after another to keep the Sparts at bay.Port Angeles was another story. The once-beaten Roughriders pounded out 34 hits, including four home runs, to claim 9-2 and 14-3 wins.They gave us a good lesson in how to be aggressive for seven innings, Spartan coach Bill Clement said. We hit the ball well at times yesterday. We had 17 hits in the two games, which was our best offensive performance of the season. But basically, they showed us where we need to be. Despite the losses, Bainbridge still emerged from the week with a 4-2 league record and a 5-4-1 record overall, quite a contrast to the 3-16 and 2-17 seasons of 1998 and 1999.They remain solidly in third place in the Olympic League, and well ahead of Sequim, the league's other 3A team and the Spartans' rival for state-playoff position.According to the players, the element of fun is a cause of their success as well as an effect.The senior McKenzie attributes this year's success to hard work and motivation. People really want to be out here. We're all having fun, she said."

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