DURANT — Figuring his team would be locked in a tight, low-scoring battle against Gaither, Durant coach Matt Carter instructed the Cougars to play small ball in the second inning Tuesday night.
"In a big game, it's usually going to be decided by a run, so you're just trying to scratch one out," Carter said.
His plan worked to perfection. And then some.
With the help of three bunt singles, the Cougars scored five times in the second, which keyed a 6-2 win that sends Durant to the region semifinals for the first time since 2003. The Cougars (23-5) play at Countryside on Friday.
"I didn't think we'd put five on the board," Carter said. "Everything fell right for us (in the second). They executed well and did what they were supposed to do."
Durant pitcher Sara Demuth did the rest.
The senior, who entered with a 0.23 ERA, allowed five hits and only two earned runs in the seventh to improve to 13-2. It didn't hurt that Durant's defense produced clutch double plays with one out in the fifth and sixth innings to thwart Gaither's (21-8) scoring chances.
"Sara threw a good game," Carter said. "She's dependable and consistent."
The bunting was only part of Durant's big inning. Catcher Kristen Jones smacked a double that drove in two.