By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
ATLANTIC CITY — Senior right-hander Megan Master was one pitch away from working out of a serious jam in the top of the sixth inning against Ocean City on Thursday afternoon, but it’s not always easy to make a pitch necessary to get Red Raiders first baseman Jackie Nesi out.
Nesi, just a sophomore and already one of the top power threats in the Cape-Atlantic League, launched a ball deep to left field with two outs — a no-doubter that went for a grand slam and turned a tight game into a 9-3 Ocean City lead. The Red Raiders went on to win, 11-4, to improve to 6-4 overall and stop a four-game slide in the process.
Before that at-bat, Master was able to keep Nesi in check with a walk, groundout and sacrifice fly.
“It was incredible. I was really frustrated. I was just trying to hit the ball,” Nesi said. “With the foul ball I hit (down the left-field line), that made me want to hit even more and straighten it out. Before I went into the box, I was looking for a low pitch, but when I saw the ball I said, ‘I’ll hit it.’ I wasn’t expecting it to go that far.”
“Everyone was lit up when Jackie hit that grand slam. Everyone was cheering. It made us feel more confident,” said Ocean City third baseman Brooke Segich. “The middle of the lineup gives us our momentum, and if we can have consistent hitters throughout the lineup that will translate into wins.”
Atlantic City (5-5) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Master blasted a 2-run home run after a leadoff single by Gabi Hendri, but the Red Raiders answered in the second when shortstop Keani Hindle launched a two-run shot of her own.
“Every time she gets a good hit before me, I get super pumped and feel like I’m going to get a hit,” said Nesi, the clean-up hitter.
“That probably turned the whole game around. It got a tie game going again, and it was a whole different mindset,” Segich added.
Atlantic City grabbed the lead again in the third when Master blooped an RBI single to center, scoring Miriam Bibi, who had doubled to right to start the inning and was moved to third on a ground out by Hendri. But again the Red Raiders answered, tying the score, 3-3, in the fifth when Alex Vitola scored on an error. Nesi followed with a sacrifice fly later in the inning to give Ocean City a 4-3 lead, and Angel McDowell made it 5-3 with an RBI double to right field.
Atlantic City got a run back in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Bella LoPresti, cutting the deficit to 9-4, but Ocean City tacked on two more in its half of the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Devon Punthrangrul and an RBI single by Segich.
Ocean City needed a confidence-building win after suffering three straight losses during a recent spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C.
“I know (Master) is pretty strong, but our offense learned a lot from Myrtle Beach,” Segich said. “We had confidence. We’ve hit good pitchers and we’ve seen it before, and it just translated into today.”
Ashley Vitiello was effective in relief of starting pitcher Catherine Faust, allowing just two hits and one run in four innings of work. She had just one strikeout, but Segich said the Red Raiders rely on their pitchers to pitch to contact and let the defense do the work.
“They aren’t strikeout pitchers, but we have their backs,” Segich said. “That’s the mentality we have going into every game, just don’t put the ball right down the middle and we’ll have your back no matter what and will pick you up.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN