SOFTBALL: East Rutherford slips past Polk in eight-inning thriller

Published 12:16 pm Monday, May 1, 2023

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Polk County came ever so close Friday to knocking off conference-leading East Rutherford.

The Cavaliers pushed across a run with two outs in the seventh inning, then rallied in the bottom of the eighth to hand the Wolverines a 3-2 setback in a Mountain Foothills 7 Conference game in Bostic.

East Rutherford improved to 14-6 overall, 9-2 in conference play and remains virtually tied with Chase atop the MF7. Chase sits at 7-2.

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Polk County dropped to 7-12, 2-8.

How it happened: Polk struck first in the first inning as Sarah Vitale drew a walk and Liz Vitale looped a single to center that moved courtesy runner Miya Jackson to third. Jackson then scored when a pickoff attempt sailed into left field, giving the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.

East had runners on base in every inning, including loading the bases in the sixth with one out, but could still never push across the tying run. That changed in the bottom of the seventh as with two outs and a runner on first, Alexis Chapman drilled a pitch to the fence in left-center for a double that evened the game at 1-1.

The Wolverines retook the lead in the top of the eighth as Sarah Vitale drew a walk and Amberlyn Scruggs reached on an infield single. Katelyn Arrowood then laced a single to center to score Vitale and give Polk a 2-1 advantage.

East evened the score with no outs in the bottom of the eighth on a walk, stolen base and Alexis Grayson’s single. With two outs and Grayson on third, Halle McFarland then lined a single to lift to bring home Grayson with the winning run.

Next up: Polk County will begin its final week of regular-season play on Tuesday, hosting Brevard at 4:30 p.m.