Western Dubuque delivered an important, and very nearly costly, lesson to Dubuque Hempstead on Tuesday.
A four-run lead is never safe.
Western Dubuque erased big leads in both ends of their doubleheader at Hempstead, but the Mustangs claimed victory in the opener as Jadyn Glab delivered a walk-off double in the 11th inning for a 6-5 victory.
It was the first career walk-off hit at any level for Glab.
“I kind of just put my head down and hit the ball for my teammates,” said Glab, an eighth-grader who also caught all 11 innings behind the plate. “I really think that they help me just cheering in the dugout; I always hear them. That’s a really good team we played.”
The Bobcats were leading Hempstead, 7-4, through five innings when the second game was suspended due to darkness. It is tentatively scheduled to resume on Friday afternoon.
No matter what, the Mustangs plan to learn a crucial lesson from Tuesday.
“Jumping on top and staying on top,” Hempstead coach Alisha Frese said. “In both games after the first two innings we kind of flattened out and just coasted, so that’s one thing we need to work on.”
Hempstead’s Katie Schaul homered leading off the first inning of the opener for Hempstead, and Natalie Schemmel added a solo blast to right one inning later. The Mustangs added two more runs on a throwing error in the third for a 4-0 lead.
But that’s where the Bobcats turned it into a game.
Sydney Kennedy’s RBI double in the fourth made it 4-1 before Hempstead tacked on what turned out to be a key insurance run in the bottom half on Kayla LaPage’s run-scoring single.
But the game changed completely in the sixth.
Jenna Hoefler doubled and Kennedy singled before Amy Kane blasted a three-run homer to left that brought the Bobcats within one.
“Our mentality is team first, you second. You can’t win a game without your team,” Kane said. “I was just in a position where I had to get those runners in and I wasn’t going to leave them on base. I struck out the first two times, got walked and just felt like I had to shine, to make my moment.”
With the bases loaded and one out in the seventh, Hoefler bounced back to Hempstead pitcher Malarie Huseman, who threw home for the first out. But Glab’s relay throw to first hit Hoefler in the helmet, allowing the tying run to score from second.
Huseman struck out 18 for Hempstead.
“There’s a lot of little things within the game that can help you win or lose the ball game. That’s one thing our team is focusing on, is trying to have little victories throughout the game to get the big one,” Bobcats coach Rachael Neal said. “We know we missed some opportunities, but for the most part we were really pleased with the way the girls, one, came back, and two, fought the entire time through all 11 innings.”
Hempstead nearly won it in the eighth as Emalee Ryder and Schaul had back-to-back one-out singles. After Kennedy retired Kaylie Springer, LaPage singled to left, but Ryder took a wide turn around third and was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw from Hoefler.
Schaul reached on an error to lead off the home half of the 11th and moved to second on Springer’s sacrifice bunt. After LaPage walked and Huseman flew out to center, Glab delivered the biggest hit of her young career.
The second game was suspended by darkness following the end of the fifth inning.
Hempstead loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning of the second game and struck first as Huseman plated a run on a fielder’s choice. Two more runs came home on Lydia Ettema’s single to left. A throwing error in the third inning allowed the fourth run to score.
Emma Gile drove in a run for WD in the fourth inning, but the floodgates truly opened an inning later. Hoefler, Kennedy and Kane had consecutive RBI singles to knot the game at 4. Kaci Wolf’s two-run single to right gave the Bobcats their first lead of the day, and Gile added an RBI fielder’s choice one batter later for a 7-4 lead.
“Small things make big things happen and that’s what we do. That’s our thing,” Kane said. “We wait until the later innings, obviously, but we make it happen.”