Hitting coaches would pay to have a video of Taylor Carlson's at-bat in the sixth inning Monday.
The Marengo senior catcher's swing on a pitch on the outside corner from Burlington Central senior left-hander Brooke Gaylord was picture perfect and turned out to be a game-winning 2-run home run to right-center field that catapulted the host Indians to a 4-2 win over the defending Big Northern East champion Rockets.
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The loss snapped a 26-game conference winning streak for Central, which last lost a BN-East game on April 11, 2012, to Marengo 11-7.
"She's a great pitcher," Carlson said of Gaylord. "She threw me inside-outside the previous at-bat. The first pitch was high so I figured the second one was coming outside. It's really a mental game for me. I just wanted to get a hit. My goal is to move the runners. The little things are what make a big difference."
The Rockets' inability to capitalize on a golden opportunity to add to their 2-1 lead in the top of the inning opened the door for Marengo (10-6, 4-0).
After sophomore Emily Kisch's solo home run gave the Rockets (8-6, 3-1) a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, and Marengo senior Abby Kissack launched a solo shot to center to tie it in the bottom of the inning, the Rockets went ahead in the top of the fifth. Becca Gerke led off by reaching on an error, was sacrificed to second by Kelly Wiater and then scored on a clean single from No. 9 hitter Shelby Young.
Then, in the top of the sixth, Gaylord singled to right and Tori Harvey beat out an infield single that courtesy runner Lindsey Strohmaier was able to scoot to third on. Harvey went to second uncontested on the next pitch, setting BC up for a big inning with runners at second and third and nobody out.
But Marengo freshman right-hander Mariah Dionne struck out the next two hitters then got Wiater to fly out to right field and end the inning with no damage.
"The sixth inning was the game," said Central coach Wade Maisto. "No outs, second and third and we can't get a run in. That gives them all the momentum."
Gaylord struck out Marengo's first two hitters in the bottom of the inning but Vernoica Ruelius (2-for-3) laced a single up the middle to keep the inning alive. Carlson then launched her shot over the fence in right-center and Dionne followed with a line-drive homer to left-center to give the Indians a 4-2 lead.
Courtni Neubauer drew a two-out walk in the top of the seventh to bring Kisch to the plate as the tying run but Dionne got a called third strike to end the game. She allowed BC just 5 hits while striking out eight and walking three.
Gaylord allowed 7 hits and had 6 strikeouts and 2 walks.
"We were half into the game and you can't play that way against Marengo," Maisto said. "They'll beat you when you're at the top of your game. They had more energy than we did today and I didn't like our approach to the game. But there was nothing cheap about their runs. They hit the ball hard and their freshman pitcher did a nice job."