No. 5 Jesuit (14-5, 5-2) dug itself out of a three-run hole to beat Beaverton (13-6, 4-3) 8-4 in a crucial mid-season Metro League matchup.
“You lose this one and now you’re in fourth place by yourself,” Jesuit head coach Jim Speciale said. “This win puts us up to see what happens at the top the rest of the way.”
Jesuit dropped its second league game to Southridge on Monday, and fell behind 3-0 to the Beavers after Liv Strickland gave up a three-run homer to Kimaia Gassner in the bottom of the first inning.
“The game before, we just weren’t into it,” Speciale said of the Crusaders’ 3-1 loss. “Tonight, going down 3-0, you’re thinking ‘Wow it’s going to happen to us again.'”
It could have been easy for the young Crusaders team, with just three seniors, to give in and see their league title hopes dashed in the span of three days. Instead, Jesuit, second in the Metro League in runs scored, did what they do best. Be aggressive and put the ball in play.
“We were taking a lot of strikes at the beginning, then we started to jump on first pitch strikes,” Speciale said.
Jesuit got on the scoreboard with an RBI single from Erin Perry, the first of two for her, in the top of the third inning. Beaverton stretched the lead back to three in the bottom half of the inning after Hannah Malin dropped a Gassner flyball in front of the center field wall. Once again, it was another opportunity for the Crusaders to falter under the pressure.
But the Crusaders, who had just one hit in the first three innings, finally got to Beaverton starting pitcher Savanna Dickson in the fourth inning. The Crusaders took a 5-4 lead off four hits and a Beavers error. Victorya Stallworth, Malin and Jaclyn Flood each came through with RBI singles. Ten of Jesuit’s 11 hits were singles.
“We’re growing,” Speciale said. “Being behind and battling back shows they’re starting to get it.”
While the hits didn’t get the Crusaders beyond first base, they forced their way around the horn. Jesuit finished six of eight stealing bases.
“We got good jumps and we have above average team speed,” Speciale said. “We try to put pressure on teams.”
The pressure at the plate and on the bases led to five Beaverton errors, including Jesuit’s final two runs in the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, Strickland settled down and battled out of jams. The freshman right-hander gave up just four hits after the rough first inning.
“We’ve been going with her most of the year,” Speciale said. “She’s going to take us as far as we can go.”
Beaverton’s last opportunity came in the fifth inning when Alexa Hamaker had a 2-0 count with runners on second and third. Strickland came back with three straight strikes to strike out the pinch hitter before retiring six of the Beavers’ final seven hitters.
The win moves Jesuit to 5-2 midway through Metro League play. The Crusaders go into the second half of league play two games behind No. 3 Westview and one game back of second place Southridge, the two teams who beat Jesuit in the first round robin.
“We’ve been in every game we’ve played,” Speciale said. “We’ll take that 5-2 and battle in the second half.”
Jesuit will begin the latter half of league season at Sunset on Friday. Beaverton will host Century on Friday.