Juniata’s Gaisior punches out 24, East Juniata prevails in 10
MIFFLINTOWN — Juniata’s Elizabeth Gaisior was up to her usual tricks inside the circle for the Indians. A pitcher who has become known for her ridiculous strikeout numbers took her already historic freshman season to a nearly unbelievable level, in Thursday’s matchup against cross-county rival East Juniata. Gaisior struck out an eye-popping 24 batters in the lastest of her many dominant games.
In the end it was the Tigers that emerged victorious as Macy Buskey’s game-winning double in the top of the 10th inning that held up as East Juniata defeated Juniata in a Tri-Valley League softball contest.
“We needed this win and I think it really boosts the girls confidence after a long, hard week,” Tigers coach Lauren Cheran said. “This was a good way to end the week.”
Gaisior went straight to work getting the Tigers’ lead-off hitter Annika Martin to strikeout. However, the ball slipped past the catcher, which in turn allowed Martin to reach first base.
Martin stole second base and later moved to third on a passed ball before using a delayed steal of home to put East Juniata up 1-0.
The Indians responded in the bottom half of the first with the bases loaded and Shalelyn Armstong at the plate. Armstrong then smacked a single to left field that brought home Cheyenne Kirk to even the game at one apiece.
From there on, the game turned into a masterful pitchers’ duel between Gaisior and East Juniata’s Brenna Watts.
Gaisior used the strikeout to get the first seven outs of the game for Juniata. Her first non-strikeout out came in the top of the third inning when she got Carlee Barrick to pop up to the catcher.
Gaisior had four innings in which she recorded all of the outs via a strikeout; two of those innings she struckout the side in order.
“It’s tough, but she’s a tough kid and she wants to win. She came ready to today like she does every game,” Indians coach Erin Cressman said.
“And we didn’t quite get to pull it out, but not because of lack of effort, that’s for sure.”
Watts had three innings where she retired the Juniata batters in order. For the game, Watts had six strikeouts and only one walk through 10 innings of work.
“She is a solid performer and I think a lot of times you’ll see she performs best under pressure and that she did tonight,” Cheran said.
After a run of scoreless innings, Juniata had found itself with a major opportunity to put the game away in the bottom half of the ninth inning. With one out, Presley Goodwin hit a grounder to the Tigers’ third baseman who tried to turn a double play, but she missed the throw to second which allowed both runners to advance into scoring position.
Watts dug down deep and got Alexis Berry to pop up and got Kirk to ground out to short to get East Juniata out of the jam.
The stage was set for the top of the tenth inning where the International Tiebreaker rule came into play that puts a runner on second base to start the inning.
The Tigers had Tiana Terry on second base who later moved over to third on a passed ball before Buskey hammered a double deep to left field scoring Terry and putting the Tigers up 2-1 at the end of the frame.
“Just pure excitement, I mean it definitely makes you feel a little better knowing you are one run up,” Cheran said. “But, it definitely doesn’t ease the stress because you know you have their top batters leading off at the bottom of the tenth.”
With Kirk at second base and their heavy hitters up to bat, Gaisior led off the inning for Juniata and flew popped up to the pitcher on an 0-2 pitch for the first out. Alexea Frontz got caught swinging on a 2-2 pitch before Watts finished the job for the Tigers by getting Olivia Laub to strikeout on an 0-2 pitch.
“We played really hard. We got pretty unlucky there. We had four line drives to the outfield that didn’t fall, but they stuck with it the whole time,” Cressman said. “Sometimes it happens, so I’m really proud of them, they played hard, they played really well, so not much more than I can ask for.”
Laub led the Indians at the plate going 2-for-5 while Armstrong drove home the lone run for Juniata. For the Tigers, Buskey, got the only RBI for East Juniata and was just one of four batters along with Barrick, Emma Willow and Terry to have a hit in the game.
East Juniata improves to 8-3 overall and 7-2 in the TVL and will travel to face Halifax while Juniata drops to 5-12 and will host Newport. Both games will be on Monday.
East Juniata 2, Juniata 1 (10 innings)
EJ 100 000 000 1 2-4-1
J 100 000 000 0 1-8-1
WP: Brenna Watts. LP: Elizabeth Gaisior. SO: Watts 6 (EJ); Gaisior 24 (J). BB: Watts (EJ); Gaisior (J). 2B: Macy Buskey (EJ). MH: Olivia Laub 2-5 (J). RBI: Buskey (EJ); Shalelyn Armstrong (J).