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    Amy O’Brien saved the day in Chardon’s 7-4 win over host North in a key Western Reserve Conference game on Tuesday.

    O’Brien hit an RBI double in the top of the first inning and then came in to pitch in the bottom of the second after North had scored four runs and shut out the Rangers the rest of the way.

    “That was huge,” said Chardon coach Stewart Landies of O’Brien’s performance. “She pitched really well at West Branch on Friday but we uncharacteristically had four errors behind her. She came in tonight with the bases loaded and did great.

    The Hilltoppers got off to a fast start in the top of the first when Sidney Nagaj hit a one-out double and then O’Brien followed with her two-bagger.

    Sydney Murray then walked North’s leadoff batter in the bottom half of the inning but recorded three straight outs to prevent the Rangers from tying the game.

    Murray, who pitched her best game of the season on Saturday in a loss at Riverside, walked the first two North batters in the second inning.

    Lilly Namestnik then singled to tie the game and the Rangers took a 2-1 lead on Katie Bucy’s ground out. Breonna Preston then walked to put runners at the corners and Alyssa McPeek walked to load the bases.

    O’Brien relieved Murray and gave up a two-run single to Olivia Augusta that left the Rangers ahead, 4-1.

    She retired 16 of the next 20 batters she faced.

    “My mindset was positive stepping onto the mound because I knew my defense would support me so I was relaxed,” O’Brien said. “It was super exciting to come back and get a great team win. Everyone contributed and we had a great team effort.”

    O’Brien allowed four hits and struck out four in 5 1/3 scoreless innings of work. She also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, a run scored, and an RBI.

    “I was very happy to help my team out on both offense and defense tonight,” she said. “I try to add value however I can.”

    Chardon began its comeback in the third.

    Nagaj drew a one-out walk and Sutton earned a free pass with two outs. Madison Zombory then drew a walk to load the bases and Mackenzie Kilpeck earned an RBI the easy way with her bases-loaded walk that cut North’s lead to 4-2.

    Jadyn Tarantino singled to start the Chardon fourth and moved to second on an error. Nicole Krakora’s sacrifice bunt moved Tarantino to third and then Grace Legan was hit by a pitch and took second. Nagaj then drew a walk to load the bases.

    O’Brien hit into a fielder’s choice and Sarah Sutton singled home two runs to tie the game.

    The Hilltoppers added another run in the fifth and two in the sixth.

    O’Brien and Sutton both finished the game with two hits and Nagaj, Zombory, Kilpeck, Tarantino, and Krakora each had one hit for the Hilltoppers.

    “It was a total team win,” Landies said. “Every person somehow contributed and that was great because they were down 4-1 and they had to make a choice. Either they were going to fight or they weren’t and they just showed a ton of maturity. They were all so happy for each other in the dugout.”

    Olivia Augusta pitched all seven innings for North. She allowed seven runs on nine hits and struck out one.

    “We didn’t play great defense behind her,” said North coach Matt McPeek. “Liv pitched well enough to win. I was very impressed with her. That’s a lot to ask of a kid that hasn’t had a bunch of chances.”

    Namestnik went 2-for-2 for the Rangers and Augusta had a double. Juliana Augusta and Maddie Russo also had hits for North.

    “Once (Chardon) put O’Brien in, we didn’t put a barrel on anything,” McPeek said. “She kept us at bay. As the game went on, her fastball got better.”

    With the win, Chardon improved to 8-5 overall and 3-1 in the Western Reserve Conference with a big game against league-leading Riverside on Thursday.

    “Obviously, the game against Riverside Thursday only means something in the conference if we’re able to win every other game,” Landies said. “We’re taking it one game at a time and we’re looking forward to the challenge against Riverside on Thursday and see what we can do against them.”

    North fell to 5-3 overall and 2-1 in league play.

    Steve Hare
    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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