Annie Wennerberg, Avon Lake Shoregals pull away from Westlake Demons

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE Avon Lake’s Annie Wennerberg throws a pitch during the top of the second inning against Westlake on Thursday in Avon Lake.Wennerberg won her 12th game of the season on Thursday.

MORNING JOURNAL/SAM GREENE A fly ball gets past Westlake's Alex Tinline in right field during the bottom of the sixth inning of the game between Avon Lake and Westlake

AVON LAKE — Avon Lake took advantage of Westlake’s miscues before its offense came alive to stay atop of the Southwestern Conference.

The host Shoregals held a slim lead before striking for three runs in the sixth inning. Annie Wennerberg shut down the Demons for a 6-1 win on Thursday.

“We were a little sloppy in the beginning, but I told the girls you have to fight through it and they did.” Avon Lake coach Buzz Mullen said. “We told the girls we are going to bunt until they (Westlake) get it right. That was the factor of the game. Then come up with couple of key doubles and triples and that was the difference of the game.”

Avon Lake (16-1, 8-1) had its own miscue in the first inning which allowed the Demons (9-9, 5-3) to get on the board first.

Mackenzie Smith got new life after a foul pop-up was dropped. She eventually walked and scored on Lainey McCue’s double to left-center.

Unfortunately Westlake gave a run back in the bottom half of the first on a throwing error which allowed Alexis Thomas to score. Thomas, who walked, went to second on a wild pitch before scoring.

The next couple of innings was a pitchers’ duel between Wennerberg and freshman Katie Lew. Avon Lake was able to break the deadlock with the help of some small ball.

Abby Rogers led off the bottom of the fourth with a double to left-center. Tori Meyer laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt. Westlake fielded the bunt, but the throw to first went awry to allow Rogers to score and give the Shoregals a 2-1 lead.

“Unfortunately we kicked the ball around a little bit,” Westlake coach Tom Shiban said. “We were not sharp at all in the field. Against a great team like Avon Lake, you can’t make those mistakes.”

The Shoregals pushed their lead to 3-1 in the fifth inning without the benefit of a hit. Paige Collins walked and went to third on a wild pitch. She scored on Morgan Turner’s sacrifice fly to center.

The lead seemed to be more than enough for Wennerberg, who shut down the Demons after the first inning.

At one point, Wennerberg retired six batters in a row and nine of 10 to keep Westlake at arms’ length.

The big inning offensively finally came for Avon Lake in the bottom of the sixth. Wennerberg, who bats lead-off, tripled to left field to score Taylor Thomas and Ali Balthaser. Wennerberg scored on a double by Alexis Thomas for a 6-1 lead.

Batting ninth in the Shoregals’ line-up, Balthaser had a pair of hits and got on all three times.

“I have been in a bit of a slump; (but) my team mates have definitely backed me up on this,” Balthaser said. “I just knew I had to be aggressive at the plate.”

Though Westlake put runners in scoring position in the seventh inning, Wennerberg (12-1) sealed the win by striking out the side.

She finished the game with 12 strikeouts and allowed just six hits. She didn’t give up an earned run.

While Lew (5-6) kept Avon Lake off-balance early on, Wennerberg was happy to see how her team responded.

“We usually come right out in the first inning,” Wennerberg said. “But we were struggling a little bit, but it was nice to see that we all rallied ... our hits starting falling.

“(The win) really helps us, especially with our loss (to Brecksville) earlier in the week. It helps us kind of secure our place in conference more.”

Westlake travels to North Olmsted today and Avon Lake will travel to Twinsburg Saturday.



Avon Lake 6, Westlake 1

Southwestern Conference

Westlake (9-9, 5-3) 100 000 0 — 1 6 3

Avon Lake (16-1, 8-1) 100 113 x — 6 8 1

TWO HITS OR MORE — Westlake: Lainey McCue, Alex Tinline; Avon Lake: Ali Balthaser; 2B — W: McCue, Jamie Screen; AL: Abby Rogers; 3B — AL: Annie Wennerberg; WP — Wennerberg (12-1); LP — Katie Lew (5-6).

Last Updated: 5/2/2013 11:20:56 PM EST

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