By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
MILTON -- It was a routine grounder that you see all the time: a little dribbler to the third baseman that's easily fielded and thrown to first base for an out.
So you couldn't blame Mifflinburg's Kayla Kline for assuming that her short hit to third with two outs in the top of the sixth inning was going to be exactly that -- a 6-3 putout. That's when she -- and everyone in the stands -- got a bit of a surprise.
Milton's Mary Adams scooped up the ball and overthrew Katelyn Gensel at first base. The resulting error not only allowed Kline to safely reach, but drove in Molly Davis and Margaret Wiand to put the Wildcats ahead for the first time Tuesday.
"That's the first time I've seen Adams come up and moon the ball over the first baseman's head with two outs," Mifflinburg coach Steve Ross said. "That's what I keep preaching to them. Put the ball in play and things will happen, and it did. (That) was a huge break for us."
The Wildcats added two more runs in the seventh inning to put the game away, leaving Milton with a 6-3 win and the HAC-I crown.
"That (error) really shifted the momentum. I think it was something that we needed," Mifflinburg ace pitcher Alli Lloyd said. "We needed a little bit of a booster there and that kind of gave us the fuel for the fire for the rest of the game. I think that really pumped us up."
Mifflinburg (16-3, 12-1 HAC-I) took a 4-3 lead after the error and never looked back.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Milton (12-4, 10-3) looked to reclaim the lead when it loaded the bases with just one out. Milton's Taylor Batman (two doubles) hit a fielder's choice to third that was thrown home for an out that prevented a run. Lloyd then struck out Kiah Brink to end the inning with no damage done.
The Black Panthers stranded a total of eight runners in four innings.
Mifflinburg's Sara Stauffer came through with a huge two-run home run deep to center field in the top of the seventh which put the Wildcats ahead by three.
"It felt great coming off my bat. I didn't think it was over (the fence), but I knew that I would get a hit off it," Stauffer said. "Glad that it worked out."
After starting the game with two straight 1-2-3 innings, Milton started hitting Lloyd. Batman hit a double down the right-field line in the bottom of the third before Mackenna Miller (2-for-4) had a hit drop into center and push the first run across the plate.
The Black Panthers then added two more runs in the fourth. Adams and Linea Brouse reached on a single and an error, respectively, before Batman came through with another double -- this one for 2 RBIs -- to give Milton the 3-0 lead.
"We've had pretty decent success hitting the ball off of (Lloyd) ever since she started pitching," Milton coach Bill Keefer said. "We've always hit the ball half-decent against her. We don't always beat her, but we always score runs off her."
The usually dominant Lloyd struck out only four Milton batters, but the Mifflinburg defense did its job throughout the game with great defensive plays.
With a runner on second and one out in the fifth inning, Adams hit a deep shot to center that was easily fielded by Davis. Without missing a beat, Davis threw to third to beat the runner's slide and turn an inning-ending double play.
"Milton's a great hitting team (and) the defense behind me was awesome. They were just amazing. I can't say enough about them," Lloyd said. "They made the plays they needed to. I think we really played as a team and it was a great game."
The Black Panthers collected seven hits, with three batters (Batman, Miller and Dani Lincoln) having two apiece.