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By LINDA ROTHSTEIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 21, 2001
NEW PORT RICHEY -- It started as a battle and ended up a blitzkrieg as Ridgewood defeated Gulf 15-4 in five innings via the 10-run rule.
This was a Class 5A, District 9 matchup for the two teams as the Rams improved to 2-0 on the season and the Buccaneers dropped to 0-3.
After the Rams took an early 3-0 lead, the Bucs tied the game in the third inning off of three hits and good baserunning. Gulf hit the ball well, slapping a total of eight hits.
"I thought we came out there strong and I thought we put up a fight," Gulf coach Jessica Winsbro said. "We had one bad inning. After that inning, we lost it mentally and we never came back into the game mentally. Ridgewood had a very strong team, but I think, at the beginning, we could have been a contender against them."
But Bucs pitcher Erica Ernst got rattled in the bottom of the third, walking four consecutive batters and allowing three runs before being relieved by Tiffany Tompkins.
Two errors and two passed balls also contributed to the 10-run, three-hit inning.
In fact, walks also contributed greatly to Ridgewood's three-run second inning.
Leadoff hitter Jenna Lowe was hit by a pitch before designated hitter Elizabeth Sullivan grounded out to the pitcher. But the next three batters, Melanie Boyer, Breanne Hill and Leda Smith, all walked to keep the inning alive and help score three runs. "We executed fundamentally pretty well up at the plate," Ridgewood coach Greg Bollinger said. "We had some good sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flys and we ran the bases aggressively and scored some runs on passed balls, so that part was pretty positive."
The Rams scored two more runs in the fourth, one off an error and the other on a sacrifice fly, to pull ahead 15-3.
The Bucs tried to cut the deficit in the top of the fifth as leadoff hitter Nina Klingenbeck reached on a walk.
Belinda Hatch then got thrown out on a sacrifice bunt before Keri Longnecker got a base hit to send Klingenbeck to third. Sarah Haney followed with a single to score Klingenbeck.
Keimi Martelli kept the rally going with another base hit until the Rams' Hill struck out two consecutive batters to end the game.