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River Ridge thwarts Land O'Lakes' late comeback

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2001


NEW PORT RICHEY -- This was not a one-run game typical of the Land O'Lakes-River Ridge rivalry.

On the other hand, the Royal Knights' 10-7 win Friday night could have been closer than the score indicated.

River Ridge (10-2) scored three runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 10-4 lead. But visiting Land O'Lakes rallied for three runs in the top of the sixth before Christine Beck returned to the mound to shut down the Gators.

"We had it. Then we gave it back," River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said. "Jerry (English, Land O'Lakes coach) and I, we always play tough."

The win gave the Royal Knights a sweep of the Gators (7-5). River Ridge won 3-2 on Feb. 27.

Christine Beck (6-1), the coach's daughter, pitched twice in the game, coming in the first time in relief of starter Jen Brumbaugh and with River Ridge trailing 2-1.

She departed with a 10-4 lead in the sixth but came back in after Megan Fehley allowed two walks and a single.

Andy Babij was hit by a pitch to force in Amber Slate, and Ashley Patton and Erica Skillman followed with RBI singles before Beck worked out of the jam.

Afterward, coach Beck apologized to his players for taking out Beck, which nearly backfired as the Gators' rally ended with the bases loaded and the potential go-ahead run at the plate.

Jen Savage's groundout ended the Land O'Lakes threat.

Stefanie Simon had two of River Ridge's six hits, and they could not have been timed better. Simon hit a three-run double in the fifth and had a run-scoring single in the fourth.

"She had a great night," coach Beck said of Simon, who also reached on an infield error, scored once and made a strong throw on a 1-6-3 double play in the fifth.

Christine Beck had a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and Amy Cassell scored in the inning when Patton misplayed Megan Beach's grounder to third base.

Samantha Harvey's two-run single in the fifth pulled the Gators within 7-4, but River Ridge increased its lead with three runs in the bottom of the inning.

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