NEW PORT RICHEY — Ernie Beck needed a cleanup crew in a hurry.
Bloomingdale had just scored in the top of the sixth to pull within one of River Ridge (19-6).
The Royal Knights coach walked to the mound and called in his infield. Sarah Simon, Michelle McKonly and Jessica Tanbury provided a little comic relief to loosen up freshman pitcher Lakyn Shull.
The impromptu meeting worked, helping River Ridge to a 2-1 win over Bloomingdale in the Region 3 quarterfinal. River Ridge will host Newsome on Friday.
"They always crack jokes," Shull said. "… They knew this was a huge game if we wanted to keep going."
Starter Samantha Stahl limited the Bulls (18-9) to two hits, no walks and four strikeouts through five innings. Beck didn't want to allow the top of Bloomingdale's lineup to see Stahl a fourth time, so he brought in Shull.
Shull walked Bulls sophomore Alexa Lopez, then gave up a single to senior Katelyn Molkenthin. After striking out Hannah Hensley, Bulls pitcher Kelly Kristen knocked a double to leftfield to score Lopez. But Shull settled down after the meeting to strike out the final two batters.
"It was a tough decision taking Sam out because she was doing so well," Beck said. "I can imagine when the run scored everyone was wondering, 'What the heck is he doing now?' "
On the mound, Kristen allowed six hits and no walks, and struck out four.
The Royal Knights got their first run in the second when Simon scored on an error. Madison Morris' double in the fifth brought in freshman Jenn Karl for a 2-0 lead.