A sudden surge of runs in the fifth inning broke a tied game and advanced PCM to the second round of the Regional tournament, as the Mustangs defeated Pella Christian 7-2 last night in Monroe. Runs were hard to manufacture for both teams through the first four innings, as PCM’s Haleigh Munson and Pella Christian’s Paige Blom were on their game in the pitching circle.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, though, PCM’s offense exploded – plating five runners in a row and taking advantage of a series of singles and Pella Christian mistakes. As if a five-run deficit wasn’t hard enough to contend with, the Lady Eagles had to try collect hits off of Munson, who allowed only three hits on the night – all of which came in the fourth inning. PCM Head Coach Stephanie Langstraat said Munson’s mentality going into the game was key in her success.
“She showed up, and the first thing that she told me was that she was ready. And from that moment on, that was all I needed to hear from her, and I knew she was going to get out there and pitch a strong game,” said Langstraat. “She’s a great pitcher. She might not be the fastest one out there, but she is a great pitcher; and when she’s on, that girl is on. I’m very proud of her performance.”
Munson would close out the sixth and seventh innings facing four batters apiece and giving up no hits to seal the 7-2 victory for PCM. She finished the night with 7 strikeouts, and gave up just two walks and three hits. All but two Mustang players had at least one hit, led by Erica Neideigh, who went 2-for-2 with 2 RBIs, 1 run and 1 walk. Kelsey Townsend was 1-for-1 with a double, scored 3 runs and earned 1 walk.
In a thin stat sheet for Pella Christian, Ashley Van Kooten led the way on offense, going 1-for-2 with a triple and an RBI and reaching base safely on an error. Paige Blom had 4 strikeouts and 4 walks, while allowing 8 hits. Following the loss, Lady Eagles co-Head Coach Nate Van Wyk said it was tough for the team to accept ending the season short of their expectations.
“We had high hopes. We had hopes that we thought if we could get past this one we would be sitting pretty good,” said Van Wyk. “We knew this was probably going to be one of the toughest games in our region, right out of the chute here against PCM. The girls are bummed, there’s no doubt about that. We feel like we let one get away from us here.”
Pella Christian’s season ends with a record of 21-10 and a possible outright Little Hawkeye Conference title hanging in the balance, while PCM will move on and look to improve upon an 18-9 mark tonight when they face Albia on the Lady Dees’ home field. Albia advanced to the second round of the Region 5 bracket in Class 2-A by defeating Eddyville-Blakesburg 7-0.