Robert Redford couldn't have written a better script.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning and a two-strike count, sophomore catcher Stephanie Phillips delivered a bloop single that scored JoDee Krause, giving Missoula Big Sky a hard-fought extra-inning 4-3 Western AA victory over crosstown rival Missoula Hellgate on Friday night at McEnaney Field.
Phillips had been 0-4 with two strikeouts, but made the most of her extra-inning at-bat.
"It was a very important win for us," said Big Sky coach Al Stohle. "We're going into the second half of the conference schedule and we've got to have every one of them."
The Eagles' bottom of eighth began with back-to-back singles by first baseman Diedre Ranf and second baseman Krause. A Meghan Houlihan strikeout was followed by a fielder's choice by Tessie Balddwin. Hellgate shortstop Erica DeMers forced out the lead runner at third on the play, setting the stage for Phillips' heroics.
Junior Lynnae Foshag (3-6) went the distance and got the victory in a pitcher's duel. She allowed two earned runs, nine hits, no walks and struck out six.
Fosahag outlasted Hellgate's starting pitcher, sophomore Molly Hays (3-6), who pitched eight strong innings, giving up nine hits, three walks and whiffing 10. Hays kept the Eagles off-balance with her hard fastball mixed with an effective change-up.
Early on, the Knights jumped out to a lead and seemed poised for victory. Hellgate left fielder Casey Chumrau whacked an RBI single in the second and catcher Ellen Buchman doubled in a run in the Knights' two-run third. Unfortunately for the Knights, Foshag settled down and held them scoreless throughout the remainder of contest.
"They got right after us the first time we played over there," Stohle said. "Our girls just came up real big tonight."
Big Sky matched Hellgate's two runs in the bottom of the third, when second baseman Mandy Hays slipped on the edge of the outfield grass attempting to catch Ranf's two-out pop-up.
In the fifth, Big Sky's Collette Phillips scored from third on a wild pitch to tie the game, and the scoring abruptly ceased.
"After we beat Billings Senior (April 28) who's No.1 in the state, we started to get some confidence," said Stohle. "Now, I've told them that its like eating an apple, just take one bite at a time."
Stohle's advice must have worked, as the Eagles currently are riding a four game-winning streak. Big Sky improved to 2-6 in Western AA play and 7-7 overall.
The Knights, who dropped to 4-8 in the conference and 4-11 overall, received a 2-for-3 outing from Heidi Garr. Chumrau had a 2-for-4 performance with an RBI and Karin Gorseth smacked two singles for the Knights. Buchman also went 2-for-4.
Hellgate is scheduled to return to the diamond May 11 when they travel to Bozeman to face the Hawks.
Big Sky puts its winning streak on the line when it plays host to league foe Helena High on Saturday.
Missoula Big Sky 4, Missoula Hellgate 3
Molly Hays and Ellen Buchman. Lynnae Foshag and Stephanie Phillips. W - Foshag (3-6) L - Molly Hays (3-6)
HELLGATE - Kari Harding 1-4, Mandy Hays 0-4, Karin Gorseth 2-4, Mo. Hays 0-3, Buchman 2-4, Erica DeMers 0-3, Tiffany Daivdson 0-4, Casey Chumrau 2-4, Heidi Garr 2-3.
BIG SKY - S. Phillips 1-5, Shelley Boyd 0-3, Collette Phillips 2-3, Amanda Stubb 3-4, Foshag 0-3, Diedre Ranf 1-2, JoDee Krause 1-3, Meghan Houlihan 0-4, Tessie Baldwin 1-4..
2B - Buchman. 3B - Harding. RBIs - S. Phillips, Chumrau, DeMers.