By RYAN CZACHORSKI Daily News
Effingham Daily News
---- — STRASBURG -- Stew-Stras and Dieterich met last week in a conference matchup, with the Comets taking home an 8-1 victory.
It was each team's last game, and when they met Wednesday in a rematch, there was more on the line -- a berth in the NTC tournament semifinals.
The game was decidely closer throughout, but Stew-Stras advanced with a 6-2 win over the Movin' Maroons Wednesday.
"The game last Wednesday was 8-1, maybe you feel like you're the better team, I felt like it was going to be a tight game," said Stew-Stras coach Kyle Knop. "It was the kind of game I expected."
The fourth-seeded Comets (8-5) advance to face top-seeded Altamont Friday in Altamont.
Stew-Stras struck first, putting together a two-out rally in the bottom of the first. Kelsie Walden singled to center, and Lindsay Burton reached on an error. Kennedy Ferris brought them both home with a bloop single in front of Taylor Wright, making it 2-0.
Dieterich answered in the third inning. Mallorie Vahling had a one-out single, and went from first to home on a routine single by Mikaela Cox with two outs to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Comets came back with two runs in the third, scoring on a Burton RBI single and a Ferris RBI groundout.
In the inning, starting pitcher Kendall Knop was thrown out sliding into third base, and was slow to get up with an arm injury. Kendall Knop stayed in the game and gutted it out on the mound, helping out her team and Kyle Knop.
Stew-Stras' other pitcher, Courtney Schultz, injured her elbow and probably won't pitch again this year, Kyle Knop said. While Schultz played Wednesday, Kendall Knop was about it on the mound.
"She had an abrasion where she hit spike or the shin of the girl. It was on her throwing arm," Kyle Knop said. "I'm about out of pitching. We're going to go as Kendall goes."
The Maroons kept fighting in the fourth. Katilyn Meinhart had a one-out double, and Megan Garbe cut the lead to 4-2 with a two-out single that just cleared the glove of a jumping Courtney Schultz.
"We had runners on every inning, and we just couldn't get that big hit with two outs," said Dieterich coach Scott Kocher. "It was anyone's game."
Things stayed scoreless there for two innings, as Kendall Knop and Sydney Higgs battled on the mound.
Burton and Ferris led off the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles. Dieterich got a key out when Bailey Quast lined out to Whitley Brummer, but Brummer's throw to first to try and get Ferris went wide, allowing both runners to advance and Burton to score.
Madison Quast added to the lead on the next at-bat, lacing a single to right field that scored Ferris and made it 6-2.
The error, along with another in the inning, was the kind of play Dieterich had been avoiding in the close 4-2 game.
"(Brummer) made a good play, but threw it away. Overall, we did a much better job defensively," Kocher said. "Teams are going to hit our pitching, and when we don't make plays, we lose badly. When we make plays like we're capable of, we can hang around."
Knop shut down the Maroons in the seventh, helping Stew-Stras advance. She allowed nine hits and two runs, striking out five and walking one.
Ferris had three RBIs while going 2-for-3. Madison Quast was also 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Burton went 2-for-3 on the game.
"We got a few timely hits, but we had a few that found some holes," Kyle Knop said. "Some times the (Texas leaguers) fall in for you, sometimes they fall in against you.
"The one inning where they kind of kicked the ball around, they gave us a couple extra outs and we scored a few runs."
Higgs took the loss. She allowed nine hits and six runs in the game.
Meinhart went 3-for-3 with a double, Vahling was 2-for-3 with a walk and Garbe was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Dieterich falls to 3-9 with the loss. They face Neoga Friday at home in the consolation bracket.
Dieterich 001 100 0 2 9 4
Stew-Stras 202 002 X 6 9 0
WP - Knop LP - Higgs
Dieterich: Meinhart (3-3, 2B); Vahling (2-3, BB); Garbe (2-4, RBI); Cox (1-4, RBI); Thoele (1-4)
Stew-Stras: Walden (1-3); Ferris (2-3, 3 RBI); M. Quast (2-3, RBI); Knop (1-4); Schultz (1-3); Burton (2-3)