By BRANDON SCHLAGER
Niagara Gazette —
So, with two outs and the score deadlocked at 1-1, it made sense for the upset-minded Indians to pitch around No. 5 hitter Jen Marshall, who had already reached base twice, to load the bases and get to Terrana.
It turned out to be the worst decision West could have made.
Terrana made the Indians pay with a two-run double on a rope to left field that plated Amanda Boyle and Toni Polk, breaking the game wide open. The second-seeded Wolverines piled on three runs that inning and used two more in the sixth to pull away and defeat the 10th-seeded Indians, 6-1, at Nicoletti Field.
“It was a smart move on their part because Nicole didn’t have the best at-bats earlier in the game,” Niagara Falls coach Marth Amoretti said of West’s game-altering decision. “But we know what Nicole is capable of. She came up big with a clutch hit with two outs, the bases loaded, and that was huge.”
West Seneca West and the unseasonable chill in the air managed to put the Wolverines’ potent offense on ice for the first four innings. It was Niagara Falls’ first game in nearly two weeks due to the postseason bye they earned as the No. 2 seed, and they looked like a team with a little rust.
That allowed the Indians to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning with the help of a pair of fielding errors. But it wasn’t long before the Wolverines warmed up.
Boyle scored Niagara Falls' first run in the third inning and Marshall came around to score on a throwing error following Terrana’s double in the fifth. The Wolverines added two more runs in the sixth when Alexis Aughtmon and Stephanie Bielec bunted their way on base before coming around to score.
Boyle finished the game 3 for 3 and scored twice and Bielec was 2 for 4 with a run scored. Niagara Falls scored four of their runs on errors, manufactured by a little small ball.
“They (West) played us so tough that we just started playing for a run,” Amoretti said. “We don’t always do it, and people think we’re more about the big bats, but we’re showing we can get runs any way.”
Winning pitcher Jasmine Petrishin settled in after the first inning and retired the next 13 batters she faced to put the Indians on ice. Petrishin went the distance, striking out six while surrendering just four hits. The run allowed in the first inning was unearned.
“She’s pitched so well for us. Not just today, but all season long,” Amoretti said. “She’s exceeded expectations all season and she’s the key to what we have to do. I knew we’d get the bats going, so we’re really dependent on the pitching right now.”
Niagara Falls advances to the semifinals and will host No. 4 Lancaster at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday for a chance to return to the Class AA finals for the second year in a row.
“From here on out, we’re expecting to battle,” Amoretti said. “I’m expecting some close games, and honestly it could come down to a single, it could come down to an error. So that’s how tight I expect the rest of these games to be.”Follow contributing sports reporter Brandon Schlager on Twitter @B_Schlag.