Kylie Gletow’s five innings of scoreless relief put a pretty bow on an otherwise ugly game and enabled Hunterdon Central to rally from a three-run deficit and defeat Skyland Conference rival Bridgewater-Raritan, 9-6, on Wednesday morning in Flemington.
Gletow entered after Maddie Capitta ripped a three-run home run off starter McKayla Yard that staked the Panthers to a 6-3 lead with still no outs in the third inning. “I was thinking ‘just get outs,’” said the Monmouth University-bound Gletow. “It had already been a long inning.”
Gletow did just that, striking out the first two batters she faced and retiring the side in order. With order restored, the Red Devils (9-1) quickly went about taking care of the deficit on the scoreboard.
Hunterdon Central’s lefty-hitting catcher Kaitlin Redling came to bat with two runners on and two outs in the bottom of the third and promptly erased Bridgewater’s lead. Redling ripped a hard single to right field that was misplayed into four bases and a sudden 6-6 tie.
“I knew we needed to string some hits together and get those runs back,” said Redling, a Misericordia commit. “I think it was important for us to be there for each other at that point and not let the score on the scoreboard get us down.”
Redling was in the middle of another three-run rally in the fourth triggered by Olivia Burd’s (Scranton) leadoff double down the left field line. Burd scored the go-ahead run when Sarah DeStefano reached on a throwing error. Gianna Colalillo then singled to left and the runners moved up on Gletow’s grounder to first base. DeStefano scored on a wild pitch with Redling at the plate before the senior catcher delivered again with two outs. She beat out a slow roller to the right side that brought Colalillo home and extended the lead to 9-6.
“I’m confident at the plate for sure,” said Redling. “I’m concentrating on tracking the ball in all the way. I want to be able to relay that message of what I’m seeing at the plate to my teammates. I’m trusting my hands.”
Gletow wasn’t untouchable but she sure was difficult on a Bridgewater lineup that rung up 11 hits in the game. Only four of those hits came against Gletow, who struck out nine Panthers and walked just one.
“Everything was working,” Gletow said. “All of my pitches.” Gletow throws a nice assortment of pitches, including a fastball, curveball, changeup, rise, drop curve and drop screwball.
Bridgewater (5-7) actually had two separate three run leads but errors contributed to the Panthers kicking both of those leads away.
Kayla Holguin innocently triggered a rally in the top of the first for Bridgewater when she drew a two-out walk on a 3-2 pitch from Yard. Jalynda Mercado then singled to right field as the Red Devils’ Nicole Plesh nearly came up with the sinking liner on a diving attempt. Holguin reached third on the hit and Mercado stole second to put bothers runners in scoring position.
The Panthers’ starting pitcher Grace Martino then drew a walk on another 3-2 pitch to load the bases before Grace Venuto singled through the left side for two runs. Capitta (3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI) followed with an RBI single through the same hole.
“Maddie is one of our players who has been fighting through a slump,” said 22-year Bridgewater coach Sandra Baranowski. “She’s been working hard to come out of it.”
Hunterdon Central manufactured three runs in the bottom of the first on two errors, a single and a fielder’s choice.
Burd led off and reached on an infield error. Samantha Del Hoyo’s infield single to the right side sent Burd to third. Del Hoyo then stole second. Gianna Colalillo reached on a fielder’s choice that allowed Burd to score as Del Hoyo took third at the tail end of a botched rundown. Gletow then hit a hard shot into right field that got Del Hoyo home. Colalillo kept motoring around to the plate, too, with the tying run as the right fielder, Kristen Lee, fired to first to get Gletow.
Bridgewater did keep the heat on Gletow. Capitta and Taylor Cannon singled in the fifth but Gletow struck out the side around the two hits. Mercado singled with two outs in the sixth, stole second and reached third on a wild pitch. But Gletow induced Martino to hit a pop up that third baseman Skylar Daniel put away for the third out.
Venuto led off the seventh for the Panthers with her third single of the game, a hard shot up the middle. Despite going to a 3-1 count on the next batter, the dangerous Capitta, Gletow beared down and struck out the side from there to end it.
“We got it done but we could have attacked more at the plate,” said Gletow.
NOTES: Sophomore first baseman Lea Kosinski (2-for-3) had three strong at bats for Hunterdon Central, singling hard through the middle in the third and doubling down the left field line in the fourth. … Bridgewater out hit Hunterdon Central 11-8, but the Panthers committed four errors to the Red Devils’ zero.