NEW PORT RICHEY — A stunning error. A big-time hit. And now, a district scenario not many would have foreseen in 5A-8.
Gulf's Nikki Sedivy ripped a two-run double as the Bucs scored a walkoff, standings-shaking 3-2 win over River Ridge on Tuesday. The result, coupled with Dunedin's victory over Tarpon Springs, means Dunedin will be the top seed for the district tournament.
It also means Gulf and River Ridge, expected to vie for the district title, will instead be on track to meet in the semifinals. One will be staying home for the playoffs.
"We went from being the first seed to being the third seed," said a clearly displeased River Ridge coach Ernie Beck.
Knights ace Makenzie Goluba had a two-hitter going into the final inning and struck out the first batter with one of her numerous, nasty drop balls.
Rachel Gardner swung at a pitch that hit the dirt. But because it was a strike it required a throw to first, which sailed into rightfield. Tarra Rice followed with a solid single, and after Goluba struck out Madison Morlan, Sedivy came through with her smash down the third-base line.
"Honestly, when I hit it I thought it was going foul," she said. "I had five homers last year but none this year. That felt 10 times better than a home run."
By virtue of its victory over the Bucs, a game in which Gulf (13-2, 6-1) committed eight errors, Dunedin gets the top seed.
River Ridge (19-3, 5-2) was on pace to win thanks to Kenzi Maguire, who doubled, tripled and scored both of her team's runs. She tripled leading off the sixth and came in on Madisyn Palmer's single for a 2-1 lead.
Morlan got the victory, allowing six hits while striking out three. Goluba finished with five strikeouts. Gulf's first run against her was unearned, Haley McCarthy singling in Sedivy making it 1-1 in the second.
"She has a tough drop ball. It's enticing," said Gulf coach Rick Hohenthaner, adding that his team devoted the previous two days of practice trying to prepare for the Goluba drop ball.
"We waited until the seventh inning to lay off of it."