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Grafton’s Kayley Cox and York’s Chelsea Evans looked to be settling into a pitchers’ duel Wednesday night.
Cox opened with a three-up, three-down first inning before retiring seven batters in quick succession in the second and third innings.
Evans kept pace and, after facing four batters in the first inning, retired three batters in each of the ensuing four innings.
Slowly, though, the batters found their stride. Evans helped her own cause in the fourth inning, using a RBI double to plate the first run of the game and give York a one-run lead.
Coming off four consecutive three-and-out innings, Grafton’s Christa Hall made the most of an infield hit and beat the throw to first. Jessie Sprouse then stepped to the plate.
“I have to hit the ball,” Sprouse thought before the at-bat. “There was no doubt. I have to hit that ball to the green. I have to get my job done.”
Facing a 2-0 count with two outs, Sprouse connected on a deep shot to center field moments after Hall reached. The home run scored two runs, enough to seal the 2-1 win over York.
“I just saw a pitch I liked and I went for it,” Sprouse said. “I was hoping it was going to go the green.”
With a one-run lead in hand, Cox held the advantage the rest of the way. Cox finished with two strikeouts and scattered four hits over seven innings, but found most of her success by pitching to contact.
Grafton’s defense responded and turned in an impressive defensive performance. With Sprouse anchoring the third base line and Hall running down a handful of deep shots in center, York struggled to put many runners on base.
For Grafton Coach Vanessa Young, the fielding marked improvement over the Clippers’ last outing.
“We didn’t have a good outing our last game, and that was something we talked about in practice,” Young said. “We made a lot of mental mistakes and had four errors. Today we focused on being really intense and in the moment, and Jessie [Sprouse] came up big.”
Outside of the two-run sixth inning, York held Grafton scoreless thanks to solid defense and pitching. Evans gave up seven hits while recording three strikeouts and, like Cox, a number of infield groundouts.
Grafton and York combined for just 13 base runners, including a walk and hit batter.
Trailing by just a run in the bottom of the seventh, the Falcons looked to rally. York drew a walk, but could not advance the runner as a pop-fly to center and groundout to Cox ended the game.
York looks to shake the loss Friday with a 4:30 game at Jamestown. Grafton, meanwhile, hosts Warhill for a 4:30 matchup.
Grafton: 000;002;0 — 2 7 0
York: 000;100;0 — 1 4 0
WP: Kayley Cox (CG, 2K, 4H)
LP: Chelsea Evans (CG, 3K, 7H)
Grafton: Christa Hall (2-3, R), Jessie Sprouse (2-3, HR, RBI)
York: Devon Smith (1-3, R), Chelsea Evans (2-2, RBI)