By BRANDON SHRIDER
FOSTORIA — There was not a shortage of baserunners between Carey and North Baltimore on Wednesday.
But while Carey stranded just six runners, including zero in its two scoreless innings, the Tigers stranded 11 runners, including four in scoreless innings and the bases loaded in their one-run third inning.
So after the Blue Devils jumped ahead early with a five-run second inning, they stranded enough North Baltimore runners and answered every run it came back with in a 13-7 Division IV district semifinal at Fostoria High School.
“I think every inning “¦ we probably had runners on base. We just failed to actually get the runners across the plate. We hit the ball,” North Baltimore coach Frankie Hernandez said of his team’s 12 hits but 11 stranded runners.
Fourth-seeded Carey, which improved to 14-4, will play top-seeded Columbus Grove (19-2) for a district title at 5 p.m. on Friday back at Fostoria
The game will be a rematch of last year’s district final in which Carey won 5-0 hinged on the arm of Dani Berardinelli-Clark’s one-hit shutout en route to an eventual regional final appearance.
North Baltimore finished its season at 19-6, after reaching its first district semifinal since 2014.
Berardinelli-Clark was pivotal yet again, this time stranding two runners and tossing just 29 pitches across eight batters in the first two innings as her Blue Devils took a comfortable 6-0 lead led by Bryanna Curlis’ (2-1B, 2B, 2 RBI) two-RBI double in the second inning.
“Dani was on tonight,” Carey coach Teresa Gillig said.
“She started out hot, she was pitching well, and she was even pitching well when I pulled her out but they were starting to hit her so I changed it up.”
Jasmine McNett, who finished with four hits and three RBIs, put the Tigers on the board with an RBI double in the third. But despite back-to-back walks following the double, North Baltimore left the bases loaded in what was a missed opportunity.
The Tigers also stranded two runners in both the fifth and seven innings, halting three-run innings that could have turned to more.
Berardinelli-Clark stranded another North Baltimore runner in the fourth in what was becoming a much-needed effort in the circle as the Blue Devils were set down in order by Katelyn Weinandy, who lost just her second decision of the season despite entering with a 1.27 ERA, in the third and fourth innings.
But after Carey stretched its lead to 7-1 in the top of the fifth, North Baltimore got hot in the fifth when Allison Kepling led off with a single and McNett belted her fifth home run of the season to bring the Tigers within four.
Despite a relatively strong outing from her ace, Gillig pulled the plug on Berardinelli-Clark and inserted Hannah Lonsway in hopes of the Tigers at bay. And despite a five-pitch walk to Weinandy and a single to Bailey Boyer, Lonsway did manage to mitigate the damage conceding just one additional run for a 7-4 lead.
Carey answered with an attempt to bury the Tigers for good when Lonsway, who finished with four hits and three RBIs, roped a two-out, two-RBI double just out of the reach of a diving Makenna Ray in right-center. Emma Wagner (2-1B, 2 RBI) followed with an RBI single before Caitie Carter mashed an RBI double for a four-run inning.
“They wanted to win. They knew they had to hit, knew they had to score, knew they had to finish ahead,” Gillig said.
Carey added two more runs in the seventh when winning pitcher Berardinelli-Clark, who had struck out in each of her first four plate appearances, blasted her eighth home run of the season to straight-away centerfield.
Trailing 13-4 entering the bottom of the seventh, North Baltimore could have folded, but after sweeping the Blanchard Valley Conference and securing back-to-back conference titles earlier this season, the Tigers didn’t quit.
Instead, Boyer led off with her team-leading 12th double of the season, Makayla Light worked a six-pitch walk, while Ray and Kepling added back-to-back singles to push three runs across before Lonsway retired McNett for her only out of the night.
“That just proves to me that I have a group of girls that aren’t gonna go down without putting up a fight. They kept fighting,” Hernandez said.
Carey 150 014 2 — 13 14 2
North Baltimore 001 030 3 — 7 12 3
WP — Berardinelli-Clark (9-2). LP — Weinandy (12-2). top hitters: (Car) Lonsway 3-1B, 2B, 3 RBI; Curlis 2-1B, 2B, 2 RBI; Wagner 2-1B, 2 RBI; Berardinelli-Clark HR, 2 RBI; Carter 2B. (NB) McNett 2-1B, 2B, HR, 3 RBI; Boyer 1B, 2B; Ray & M. Light 1B, RBI; Kepling 2-1B.
records: Carey 14-4, North Baltimore 19-6.
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