McARTHUR, Ohio — Bouncing the home team in the rubber match.
The River Valley softball team plated two runs in the top of the seventh and ultimately held on Monday night to claim a 6-5 victory over fourth-seeded Vinton County in a Division II sectional semifinal matchup at VCHS.
The fifth-seeded Lady Raiders (12-11) held one-run leads at the end of the first, second and fourth frames, but the Lady Vikings (13-9) rallied with two runs in the home half of the fifth to secure their only lead of the game at 5-4 through five complete.
After a scoreless sixth, the Silver and Black made their biggest push in the top of the seventh as Chloe Gee delivered a two-out double to left-center, plating both Brooklyn Sizemore and Grace Hash for a 6-5 edge.
The Maroon and Gray started their half of the seventh with a single, but a fielder’s choice, a pop-up and a strikeout ultimately closed the door on things as RVHS wrapped up the one-run triumph.
The win also broke a tie in the regular season head-to-head results as both home teams claimed wins in their Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division matchups. The Lady Raiders won 4-0 in Bidwell and the Lady Vikings claimed a 5-4 decision in McArthur just last week.
River Valley advances to the Division II sectional final on Wednesday as it travels to top-seeded Waverly for a 5 p.m. contest.
Sizemore gave RVHS a quick 1-0 edge as she singled home Baylee Hollanbaugh in the top of the first, then Sierra Somerville doubled and reached third on an error before coming plateward on a Hollanbaugh ground out in the second for a 2-0 advantage.
Jazmynn Sharp delivered a two-out single in the bottom of the second that brought home Sydney Smith for a 2-1 deficit, but Kasey Birchfield singled home Hash with two away in the top of the third for a 3-1 lead.
VCHS rallied to knot things up at three in their half of the third as a two-out error allowed Lacy Stapleton to reach safely while both Abby Faught and Emily Phillips scored on the miscue.
Kaylee Tucker led off the fourth by reaching on an error, then Airika Barr — a courtesy runner for Tucker — stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Hollanbaugh lifted a sacrifice fly to left, allowing Barr to come home for a 4-3 edge midway through the fourth.
Phillips and Smith started the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back singles, then a wild pitch allowed both to move up a base and into scoring position.
Lacy Stapleton reached safely on an error that allowed both Phillips and Smith to come home, giving Vinton County its only lead of the night at 5-4.
The Lady Raiders outhit the hosts by an 11-7 overall margin and also committed four of the seven errors in the contest. The Lady Vikings stranded 10 runners on base, while the guests left eight on the bags.
Somerville was the winning pitcher of record after allowing five unearned runs, seven hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out eight. Faught took the loss after surrendering four earned runs, 11 hits and two walks over seven frames while fanning six.
Sizemore and Hash paced the Silver and Black with three hits apiece, followed by Hollanbaugh, Birchfield, Gee, Somerville and Cierra Roberts with a safety each.
Hollanbaugh and Gee each knocked in two RBIs apiece, while Barr and Hash each crossed home plate twice.
Phillips and Smith led VCHS with two hits each, followed by Faught, Sharp and Josie Hembree with a safety apiece. Stapleton also drove in two RBIs in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.