HARRISON TWP. – It came down to a play at the plate.
For the 10th consecutive game, the Courier-Post’s No. 2-ranked Clearview Pioneers were safe.
Miranda Turner’s game-winning run — and slide under Hammonton pitcher Nicole Vaccarella’s tag — lifted Clearview to a 4-3 home triumph in a Tri-County Conference Royal Division tilt on Wednesday.
Turner stood on third with one out in the bottom of the sixth when Alisa Sepulveda hit a shallow fly to center field.
Rae Genovese caught the ball and crow-hopped a throw to the plate.
The throw held Turner. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, it got past catcher Madison Mathes.
Everyone broke into sprint.
Mathes to the fence for the ball; Vaccarella and Turner to the plate.
“I didn’t think it would be deep enough,” Sepulveda said. “I had faith in Miranda and thought she’d beat it with her wheels.
“I was on my way home and saw the throw. I knew she’d made it. She was more than safe.”
Then bang-bang call came much to the chagrin of Hammonton coach Eric Shulman.
Despite Shulman’s brief conversation with the home-plate umpire, the call stood.
“The umpire made the call, so she was safe,” Shulman said. “He made the call so that’s what it was.”
Turner made the decision to go.
“It was kind of an instinct thing,” she said. “You just gotta know. “
Clearview coach Deana Moore trusted “one of (her) fastest players” to make the right choice.
“If anyone woulda got in, it was her,” Moore said. “Of course, I was worried. I worry about everything. I’m a worrywart.”
Pioneers’ pitcher Nina Rizzo relieved what was left of Moore’s stress in the next half-inning. She stranded two Blue Devils in the top of the seventh to finish her complete-game win.
The Blue Devils (3-6, 3-3) learned what No. 3 Kingsway and Millville — two other one-run losers to the Pioneers — discovered earlier this season.
If you hope to beat Clearview (11-1, 6-0), you’d better put them away.
Hammonton took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. The Pioneers answered with two in the bottom of the frame.
RBIs from Carly Caprio and Genovese put the Blue Devils back in front at 3-2 in the top of the fifth.
Clearview tied it in again in the next at bat when Dom Waters scored on Harper Patsko’s infield single.
Waters reached base with two outs on her 100th career hit, a drive in between shortstop and third base.
The Pioneers stopped the game as teammates unfurled a “100” banner and congratulated one of their leaders.
“I’m pretty sure it was a drop-curve on the outside corner,” the 18-year-old Mantua native said. “My goal was to not drop my hands and roll over.
“I had no idea (it was No. 100). … It was amazing. In past years, we had close team but definitely not this close. It’s amazing to do it with a family as a team.”
Clearview’s never-say-die attitude stems from the tight roster it boasted about after Wednesday’s victory.
Moore pointed to togetherness as a catalyst of the success. Even with a target on the Pioneers’ backs, they still find ways to win.
“It tells me this team has heart,” the coach said. “You don’t teach heart. That comes from within.”
Mark Trible; (856) 486-2424; email@example.com.
Player of the game: Clearview senior catcher Dom Waters notched her 100th career hit and scored the game-tying run in the fifth inning.
Play of the game: Pioneers’ baserunner Miranda Turner slid in under Hammonton pitcher Nicole Vaccarella’s tag for the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth.
Well said: “I knew she’d made it. She was more than safe.” — Clearview’s Alisa Sepulveda on Turner’s slide.