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    Kirtland kept alive its conference title hopes with a big rally to defeat host Berkshire on Friday, 17-12.

    The Hornets trailed 7-0 before a third-inning rally changed the game.

    “That’s our team,” said Kirtland coach Jamie Kamensky. “We’re gritty and we have passion. When the kids band together, we can come back from anything and we can finish strong. It was huge.”

    Berkshire jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first on just one hit.

    A leadoff error, five walks, and a hit batter set the Badgers up for the big inning.

    Another error in the second led to three more Berkshire runs on just one hit.

    Kirtland rallied for five runs in the third.

    Kennedy Boyd started the rally with a one-out bunt single and moved to third on an error. Madison Matijevic singled, Gianna Cantini drew a walk, and Gianna DiFranco singled. Malia Becker and Grace Mastrangelo added two-out singles in the inning.

    The Hornets tied the game with two runs in the fourth.

    Boyd and Matijevic hit back-to-back one-out singles and Cantini hit a two-run double to even the score at 7-7.

    The Badgers responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Athena Stute singled and Kylie Neumore hit a home run that gave the Badgers a 9-7 lead.

    Kirtland took the lead for good with an eight-run fifth.

    Becker singled to start the inning and Ava Puruczky hit her first home run of the season.

    “It was so much fun and it felt great getting a home run and bringing in Malia and I for two runs,” Puruczky said. “I saw an outside pitch and it felt outstanding. Off my bat, it felt big and powerful. My reaction when I found out when I hit the home run was shocked, surprised, and amazed at what I can do when I have the confidence.”

    Puruczky finished the game with two hits and three RBI.

    “A big day like today is going to boost my confidence out of this world and it shows and tells me that I can do anything and I have the power,” she said.

    Bella Hostutler and Boyd followed Puruczky’s homer with singles and Matijevic hit an RBI double. Cantini walked and DiFranco followed with an RBI single. Becker was hit by a pitch and Mastrangelo and Puruczky both singled in the inning.

    “We’re hitting one through nine, so that’s a good sign,” Kamensky said. “Our No. 9, Ava Puruczky, dropped a bomb to right field and our number eight batter had three hits on the day. It’s not just the top producing. They intentionally walked Cantini and DiFranco came through with a big hit. Madison Matijevic had a big day and everybody had at least one hit today, which is great.”

    The Hornets added a run in the sixth but Berkshire countered with three in the bottom half of the inning and had the bases loaded with one out before Cantini pitched her way out of that jam.

    Kirtland added one more in the seventh and then retired the Badgers in order in the bottom half of the inning to seal their win.

    Matijevic led the charge with four hits while Boyd, Becker, and Mastrangelo each had three. Hostutler, DiFranco, and Puruczky each finished the game with two hits. DiFranco knocked in a team-best four runs and Cantini, Mastrangelo, and Puruczky each had three RBI.

    Cantini struck out 10 in the complete-game win.

    Anni Bergmeier and Stute both had two hits for the Badgers.

    Steve Harehttps://www.ohiovarsity.com
    The creator and publisher of OhioVarsity.com, Hare has covered high school sports in Northeast Ohio since 1997. He began as a correspondent for the Lake County News Herald, where he contributed until 2011, primarily covering high school football and wrestling. In 1999, Hare began writing for IrishIllustrated.com, a member of the Scout.com network of high school and college sports web sites. He focuses on covering Notre Dame football recruiting. OhioVarsity.com was created in 2004 and was a member of the Rivals.com network until 2012. The site's original purpose was to cover Ohio high school football and recruiting news but since has grown to cover all sports and to provide sports information services to high school athletic programs and individual teams. Hare attended Willoughby South High School through the middle of his senior year, then graduated from Berkshire High School in Burton in 1986. He played football, wrestled and was an all-Geauga county baseball player (1986). He lives in Chardon with his wife Paulette and their children.
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