DENVILLE _ The first four innings, all 1-2-3, were the best all season by Morris Knolls pitcher Kayla Turcios.
Turcios, a sophomore right-hander, obviously, did not give up a hit for the majority of the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV quarterfinal. The Golden Eagles scored a first-inning run and, for awhile, it certainly seemed like it might just be enough.
Ridgewood broke through for a single in the fifth inning and Turcios gave up a walk. Those runners were left on and Morris Knolls was able to cling to its slim lead.
In the sixth inning, however, the Maroons sent nine batters to the plate, capitalizing on bunts, and produced all of their runs en route to a 5-1 win over second-seeded Morris Knolls on Wednesday, May 23.
"Our pitcher was doing a great job," Golden Eagles coach Keith Heinemann said. "She had a one-hitter going into the sixth inning then all of the stuff happened. The first three or four innings were her best this season. Kayla pitched well and we were making our plays."
Seventh-seeded Ridgewood went into small-ball mode in the sixth inning, ruining the day for Turcios and unnerving Morris Knolls (15-8). No. 9 batter Lizzie Weston, the catcher, got the inning started with a single to left field. Payton Angus followed with a sacrifice bunt. Kristen Yee laid down a bunt single. A double steal, two overthrows, suicide squeezes by Alli Olsen and Kiera Boucher, Chloe Lennon's groundout and Frankie Barbera's base hit ensued, providing the Maroons with a four-run advantage.
Morris Knolls, which rapped out six hits, had a baserunner in each of its last two at-bats but was unable to produce any more runs.
"We were a little overanxious at the plate at the beginning," Ridgewood coach Patti Auger said. "We were swinging at high pitches. We hit floaters and too many groundballs. Nothing was sharply hit. We got the hits from Lizzie and Payton and kept putting the ball in play. We were trying to put pressure on their defense."
The victory enabled the Maroons, who will meet third-seeded Mount Olive in the sectional semifinals, to rebound from a tough loss to Immaculate Heart in a Bergen County Tournament quarterfinal on Sunday. Ridgewood was no hit by Ryleigh White (9 strikeouts).
"That was difficult," Auger said. "Today, the girls showed they can come back. They righted the ship. Our defense made the plays to back Lizzie (Hannafey) and that gave us a chance."
Heinemann has become quite familiar with Ridgewood over the years. He figured the Maroons would bunt.
"Ridgewood played hard. We didn't make the plays when they mattered," he said. "Ridgewood got into what it does best. They played small ball and used their speed. They did what they had to do. We weren't able to put pressure on them. We didn't get things going offensively. We didn't put things together."
Morris Knolls has three seniors on its roster and has had to endure some growing pains. The majority of the lineup is comprised of freshmen and sophomores. The Golden Eagles' season concludes on Saturday, May 26 with a game versus Mount St. Dominic.
"Hopefully, we're going to learn from this," Heinemann said.
Kayla Hua had two hits for Morris Knolls. Danica Lee and Morgan DeLoreto had a hit apiece. Meaghan Thompson doubled for the Golden Eagles.
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