Tigers utilize a big first inning to capture tournament victory


Emily Knight's first inning three-run blast lifts the Tigers past the Rebels

NEW WATERFORD, Ohio (WKBN) – Behind the solid pitching of Sophia Tvaroch and a big blast from Emily Knight, the eight-seeded Newton Falls Tigers knocked off the fifth-seeded Crestview Rebels 7-1 in OHSAA sectional tournament action Thursday night.

The victory improves the Tigers to 12-8 on the year as they advance to play Rootstown next Tuesday in tournament play.  The Rebels drop to 13-8 on the season.

The Tigers took control of the contest in the top of the first with four straight hits. Following singles by Chloe Butler and Lexie Drake, Zoe McElrath brought Butler home with an RBI double to center.  But it was Emily Knight that would provide the big blow as she took the first pitch she saw and launched it over the left-field fence for a three-run home run to give the Tigers 4-0 lead.

“I thought it was huge,” Knight said.  “It got us off to a nice start and gave us a bit of confidence to go through the game.  The pitch was right down the middle and I knew I had runners on base so I knew I had to drive them in somehow.  It hit the perfect spot on the bat so I knew it was gone.”

“We wanted to come out and get the momentum right from the very beginning and be aggressive defensively,” Tigers coach Kristina Baker remarked.  “I thought we came out and jumped on them tonight.  I was really happy with that.  We not only had aggressive at-bats, but we had quality at-bats.”

“That first inning, they did exactly what we didn’t want them to do,” Rebels coach Greg Eskra said.  “To score four, and we had a chance to get out of the inning and we didn’t.  They came out and punched us right in the face.  A lot of the wind went out of our sails.  I thought we would be able to battle from 4-0, but it kind of progressed from there.”

The Tigers added one more run in the second inning when Butler, Drake, and McElrath each collected singles with Butler scoring on McElrath’s hit to left.  That gave them a 5-0 advantage.

The Rebels would get on the scoreboard in the third when leadoff hitter McKenna Schultz doubled to right and scored on an RBI single by Kaedyn Sutton one out later.  Sutton would go 3 for 3 in the game while Schultz was two for two with two walks.

But the Tigers grabbed the momentum right back in the fourth when they plated the game’s final two runs.  McElrath had a two-out single and advanced to second on a throwing error.  She would score on an RBI single by Knight.  Knight would advance to second on the throw home and eventually score on an RBI single by Joey Hood.

McElrath would lead the Tigers at the plate on the night going three for four, including a double and two RBI’s.  Knight would go two for four with a home run and four RBI’s.  Chloe Butler and lexie Drake each had two hits.

The Tigers Sophia Tvaroch would pick up the win striking out 13 Rebel batters while only issuing 1 walk.  She would only surrender five hits.

“She did a good job tonight,” Baker said. “She stayed composed, she was in control and her defense backed her up.  She did what she needed to do on the mound to take care of business.”

“She did a great job.  She kept us off-balanced and she hit her spots,” Eskra recognized Tvaroch.

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