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Young Falcons grow up, protect lead against Palmer Ridge
FALCON • Falcon coach Kerri Millikan sensed another collapse coming from her extremely young team.
So Millikan called for time against Palmer Ridge in the seventh inning with one out and the tying run in scoring position. She calmed them down and trusted them to finish.
The Falcons, who started three freshmen in the infield, reponded by stranding the tying run at third as third baseman Megan Gackle threw across the diamond to retire a sliding Taylor Klee at first for the final out Monday afternoon.
“I think we grew up today,” said Millikan after the 5-4 win. “Yes, I was thinking about Discovery Canyon all over again.”
Millikan was referencing a season-opening 12-10 loss to Discovery Canyon in which, like on Monday, the Falcons carried a three-run lead into the final inning.
This time it took a bang-bang, controversial call to end it, but Millikan will take it nonetheless.
“I was thankful,” said Millikan of the Pikes Peak Athletic Conference contest. “I told my girls, ‘please don’t make this thing any longer.’”
The Falcons (7-5) were led by starting pitcher Cora Buechner, who went seven innings, gave up four runs and struck out eight for the win.
Millikan says it was “the Cora of last year.”
“She was dominant last year,” said Millikan of the 4A Metro Co-Pitcher of the Year. “Today was her best start of the season. She’s been giving up 12 to 15 hits a game – and today was a lot better.”
Buechner gave up eight hits to a Palmer Ridge (8-3) team that had averaged more than nine runs per game.
“We’re usually a very good hitting team,” Palmer Ridge coach Randy Gillette said. “I think we were pressing too much … and Cora pitched a real good game.”
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, the Bears’ Jennifer Tarwater drove in two runs on a single, and moved to second on the throw home.
But Buechner, the senior leader, forced two groundouts, one in which the Bears bit their tongues about after the game.
“You know, our girl slid into first, and it was bang-bang, so I have to give it to the ump,” Gillette said. “He was on the other side of the field — but I have to give it to him.”