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Airport scores four in the seventh then one in the eighth to defeat Portland, 5-4, in a Division 2 quarterfinal

Softball   | Ben Szilagy

State Champs! Sports Network

Ann Arbor — Carleton Airport had little show offensively against Portland starting pitcher Shelby Battley through six innings.

 But in the bottom of the seventh inning Airport found a way.

Facing a four-run deficit, the Jets (36-4) offense vaulted into action in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings to beat Portland 5-4 and advance to the Division 2 semifinal for the first time in program history.

“We’ve got a team where the more trouble they’re in the harder they play. When we’re down and out, all of a sudden we put balls in play in spots where they can’t catch it,” Airport coach John Warren said. “That’s how we’ve been most of the season.”

The rally began off the bat of junior starting pitcher Emily Bindus. Senior Caleigh Cousino singled allowing fellow senior Kasey Balog to get an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-1.

After Junior Lindsey Mowrey reached base on an error, which resulted in two runs, senior Caitlin Stasa swatted the ball to the shortstop reaching on an error while tying the game at 4-4.

“We never give up. We always believe that we’ll comeback. We stay high,” Bindus said.

After the junior finished her day on the mound with 10 strikeouts, she had an opportunity to end the game. With senior Lauren French waiting at third base thanks to a walk and two steals, Bindus came through.

“She’s money on the mound and she’s money at the plate. When Lauren was walked to first base, I knew Emily would bring her in way or the other,” Walker said.

Bindus, who was 2-4, belted the ball deep into centerfield and hit a walk off double for a 5-4 win in the eighth inning.

“If she wasn’t there to draw the walk, that’s everything. It’s a game changer,” she said. “I thought (the ball) was gone. I watched it fly into centerfield; I didn’t want it to hit the ground.

“I couldn’t believe it.”

Until the seventh and eighth innings, it was all Portland (30-8). Freshman Shelby Battley had a no-hitter entering the seventh. Sophomore Jorie Rutkowski hit a two-out triple to give the Raiders a 4-0 lead.

“That’s the way it is sometimes,” Portland coach Jack Anderson said. “We had Airport where we needed them, but we made some mistakes.

“I feel bad for our girls because we were playing great defense, and we were doing a great job. Our pitching put us in a position to close out the game, and we couldn’t. Airport played well.”

With Battley in trouble with two outs in the seventh, Anderson went to his reliever Abby Grys to close the game. But Anderson couldn’t have been more proud of his starter. 

“She did a great job for us. She gave us plenty of chances to make plays, and she set our defense up for success. I wasn’t sure if I was keeping her in too long, but I decided to go with Abby to finish the game,” he said.

Pinch hitter Bryn Goodman started the rally with a single and a stolen base putting her scoring position. Grys brought her in with a single.

With the bases loaded sophomore Jorie Rutkowski had a 3-run triple for a 4-0 lead.

The win gives John Warren his first trip to the Division 2 semifinals in his 21-year coaching career. Even though it’s a special moment for him, he has his girls to thank.

“In my 21 years of coaching, we’ve won districts, we’ve won leagues and regionals. But, this is the first time we won a quarterfinal game, and it’s all because of those girls,” he said. 

“They have a fine team. It was one heck of a battle.”