Pinch hitter Lily Glendenning (4) puts down a bunt that put runners on first and third with no outs in the bottom of the seventh, setting up Clara Griebel's game-winning hit. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
When two equally talented teams go head to head, the difference between winning and losing, as Stillwater coach Angie Ryan said, "comes down to the little things."
On Wednesday as two of the best teams in Class 4A, Section 4 met on the White Bear Lake field, it was a couple of little things that spelled defeat for a Ponies team seeking its third consecutive state tournament.
An errant throw on a sacrifice bunt allowed a White Bear Lake runner an extra base and an extra out and set up No. 8 hitter Clara Griebel's long fly ball single to right over a drawn-in outfield that scored two runs and let the Bears walk off with a 2-1 victory over their Suburban East Conference and Section 4 rivals.
White Bear Lake's Jordyn Meyer (14) slides into second following a seventh-inning bunt. Meyer advanced to third on an error and scored the game-tying run three batters later. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine
Stillwater had White Bear Lake under its control. Until the Ponies didn't.
After collecting just two base hits and advancing only two runners as far as second base through the first six innings, White Bear Lake loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the seventh to set up Clara Griebel's long fly ball to right over a drawn-in outfield that scored two runners and gave the Bears a 2-1 victory over their Suburban East Conference and Class 4A, Section 4 rival.
The victory came just four days after Stillwater had beat up on the Bears in an 11-1 victory on the same field. It pulled White Bear Lake (5-1, 5-1) into a first-place conference tie with Stillwater (5-1, 5-1) and Forest Lake.
Stillwater pitcher Keira Murphy entered the game with a 4-0 record and a 0.56 ERA and pitched to form through the first six innings. She finished the game with nine strikeouts.
The Bears' Chloe Barber, who gave up a home run to Gabby LaFavor in the top of the seventh that broke a scoreless tie, also struck out nine. She gave up four hits and walked two in a game dominated by pitching until the final few batters.
Stillwater's Gabby LaFavor smiles as she is greeted by coach Angie Ryan after her solo home run in the top of the sixth inning gave the Ponies a 1-0 lead. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine