AURORA—After letting the first game of a doubleheader at Aurora slip away, Mentor’s bats came alive in the second game to salvage a split with the Greenmen.
Aurora hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning and then scored again in the bottom of the eighth to win the first game, 5-4. Mentor rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the second game to win, 8-3.
“That was big for us and to string a bunch of hits together was huge too,” said Mentor coach Jo Bondra of rallying after the first game loss. “We were talking after the first game about how we scored some runs and then just sat. We know we have to score a bunch of runs to beat the teams we’re playing. That was our mindset in the second game and they were able to do that.”
Mentor scored single runs in the second and third inning and added two more in the fourth to take a 4-0 lead in game one.
Kiley Markowski drew a leadoff walk in the second and Allie Loparo and Sydni Bush both singled to load the bases. Izzy Coode hit a sacrifice fly for the 1-0 lead.
Adrianna Sluga opened the third with a single and moved to second on an error. She moved to third on Leah Temple’s groundout and scored on Abby Haydu’s ground ball out.
Bush’s leadoff double sparked Mentor’s two-run fourth. Bella Carcioppolo reached on an error that allowed pinch-runner Anna Renko to score and then Sluga singled home Carcioppolo to make it 4-0.
Aurora used a walk, a single, and a double to score two runs in the bottom of the fifth and the two-run homer in the seventh to tie the game.
A leadoff single along with a stolen base and tag-up on a flyout in the bottom of the eighth forced Bondra to intentionally walk the next two Aurora hitters to allow for a force-out at any base. An error on a deep fly ball to right-center allowed the Greenmen to score the winning run.
Sluga and Bush both recorded three hits in the first game. Temple allowed four earned runs on 10 hits and struck out six in the circle.
The Greenmen carried that extra-inning momentum into the first inning of the second game as they scored three runs on just one hit off of starting pitcher Kristin Dems. A walk and two errors contributed to the big inning.
Mentor tied it with three runs in the bottom of the second.
“We just told them we had to score and put pressure on them the same way they put pressure on our defense and pitching,” Bondra said. “We were able to do that. After the first inning, they weren’t able to score.”
Markowski started the rally with a leadoff single and Bush drew a walk. Addison Siedler’s one-out single loaded the bases. Markowski and Bush both would score on a wild pitch and Carcioppolo hit a two-out RBI single to tie the game.
Mentor added two more runs in the third when Temple hit a leadoff double, Haydu singled, and Markowski walked to load the bases. Back-to-back groundouts gave the Cardinals a 4-3 lead and then Siedler singled to make it 5-3.
Haydu led off the Mentor fifth with a solo home run and the Cardinals added two more in the sixth.
Coode led off that inning with a triple and scored when Sluga reached on an error. Temple singled and then Haydu grounded out to score Sluga.
Dems allowed just three baserunners after the first inning. She gave up one hit, one walk, and one reached on an error. All three runs she allowed were unearned and she struck out three.
“After she settled in, that was probably one of the better games I’ve seen her throw,” Bondra said. “I was just talking to (pitching coach) Erwin (Hines) and she’s right up there with Temple. She’s close to being a starting pitcher. She’s working really hard and Temple works really hard. They go back and forth and talk about the hitters. They feed off of each other, which is nice.”
Haydu led the second-game offense with three hits. Coode was 1-for-3 but her triple was just one of several key plays she made in the game. Twice, she chased down foul balls down the right-field line and she also made a pair of over-the-shoulder grabs in short center.
“The past couple of games, she’s been hitting the ball pretty well,” Bondra said of Coode. “She made a couple of adjustments at the plate and I think that carried over into her confidence in the field because a few weeks ago, she wasn’t going back on those balls and today, she was almost in center field catching some balls. I think it kind of carries over with her confidence and just made her feel more comfortable today.”
Mentor improved to 8-4 on the year.
The Cardinals travel to Brunswick on Monday.