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First-ever hits crucial to Rams' 4-2 victory

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2001


LAND O'LAKES -- Ridgewood and Land O'Lakes each had ample chances to score Tuesday night.

The host Gators had seven hits but left nine runners on base while the Rams had nine hits and seven stranded runners. The difference: Ridgewood made the most of its opportunities in a 4-2 win.

Each team squandered several scoring possibilities through four scoreless innings, but Ridgewood (9-2) took a 2-0 lead in the fifth on two-out RBI singles by Courtney Kline and Breanne Hill, who went the distance on the mound to improve to 4-2.

Shauna Kortas, a freshman starting her first game, got her first hit for Ridgewood in that inning, a one-out triple to rightfield. Pinch-runner Missy Noriega went in for Kortas and scored on Kline's hit, and Tera McCleary came around on Hill's hit.

In the top of the seventh, another Ridgewood player got her first hit. Chrissy Casanova led off with a triple to right and scored on a wild pitch by Ashley Patton (5-4) to give the Rams a 4-1 lead.

Land O'Lakes' Amanda Gulino scored the final run of the game by leading off the bottom of the seventh with her second bunt single. She raced home when Patton reached first on an error by shortstop Bethann Blankenship.

"We had a lot of good things going on tonight," Ridgewood coach Greg Bollinger said. "That's the team concept. You've got to count on everybody."

Other key contributions for Ridgewood came from Brandy Krieg, who had three singles and reached on a wild pitch, and pinch-runner Leda Smith, who tagged up from third base to score the Rams' third run when Gulino snared Jenna Lowe's line drive in centerfield, then tossed to second base in an attempt to catch Elizabeth Sullivan leaning the wrong way.

"(Sullivan) came off the base and I was screaming for her to get back, and for Leda to tag," Bollinger said. "That's just good baserunning right there."

With Ridgewood leading 2-0, Land O'Lakes (7-6) copied Ridgewood's format to get a run back in the bottom of the fifth. April Slate tripled, just as Kortas did in the top of the inning, and scored on Patton's single.

Land O'Lakes wasted a scoring opportunity in the second, loading the bases with one out on singles by Andy Babij and Gulino, and a walk to Jen Savage. But Babij was thrown out by Nicole DeLeon on a grounder to second and Lauren Mays struck out.

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