SKOWHEGAN — It turns out that Round 2 of Skowhegan-Messalonskee softball was just as much fun.
The Eagles defeated Skowhegan in nine innings last month, and the teams played another thriller Monday afternoon. The game featured 22 hits, 16 runners left on base and some spectacular defensive plays. Messalonskee wrapped up a 5-4 win when the umpires reversed their original call to a game-ending double play.
“These two teams are about as close to even as you can get,” Messalonskee coach Leo Bouchard said. “We’ve been fortunate. We had some balls drop in in our favor.”
The rare umpire reversal came in the bottom of the seventh. Skowhegan’s Mikayla Toth led off with a walk and was forced at second. Andrea Quirion followed with a hard single to left, putting runners on first and second with one out.
Kaitlyn Therriault hit a low line drive that skipped off the ground and into the glove of Messalonskee shortstop Nikki Collier. Courtesy runner Renee Wright, thinking Collier might catch the ball, started back to second but was tagged by Collier, who then stepped on second. Wright then stood on second, adding to the confusion.
The base umpire originally ruled Wright out and Quirion safe at second. After conferring, the umpires called a double play because Collier got to second ahead of Quirion for the force play.
“Nikki has played a phenomenal shortstop all year for us,” Bouchard said. “(She) got the ball, tagged the runner, had the smarts to just step on the bag.”
“At first, I was really confused,” Collier said. “I knew there was a force play at second and two people obviously can’t be on the bag at once.”
Collier had her own at bats ended twice by sparkling plays. In the first, Skowhegan first baseman Taylor Johnson made a backhanded catch of a line drive. In the third, Collier hit a foul ball that looked out of play, but third baseman Shelby Obert made a running basket catch with her back to the plate.
The score by innings also reflected the game’s evenness. Each team scored a run in the first, two in the third and another in the fourth. Kylee Knight and Natalie Hunt each singled three times for Messalonskee (10-1), while leadoff batter Phoebe Pelletier walked twice, singled and scored three runs. For Skowhegan (7-4), Quirion was 3 for 4 with two doubles, and Johnson added a triple and a single.
The run that made the difference came in the top of the fifth. With two on and one out, Messalonskee’s Kassi Michaud beat out a bunt and Courtney Veilluex scored when the Indians threw the ball away. Dakota Bragg tried to score from first on the play, but was cut down on a fine relay.
Skowhegan still had a couple chances. In the fifth, Quirion led off with a looper over third baseman Emily York, only to have Collier come from short and make a fantastic diving catch. In the sixth, pinch hitter Anne-Marie Provencal led off with a double and was on third with two out when Obert came up.
Obert was 6 for 8 against Messalonskee this season, but Bouchard let Michaud pitch to her with first base open. Obert ripped a 2-1 pitch, but right to Collier, who crouched down to catch the liner for the out.
“In the game, you’ve got to have some breaks go your way,” Skowhegan coach Lee Johnson said. “Both teams played a decent game. They just made a couple more plays than we did.”
Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243