NEW PORT RICHEY — River Ridge has followed a pattern to continue its winning streak, which stood at five games entering Thursday’s home meeting with Gulf.
The Royal Knights stay close early. They score lots of runs late. And they add another check mark in the victory column when it’s all over.
Against Gulf (5-2), it was more of the same. The Royal Knights fell behind by three before rallying in the sixth and seventh innings for a 4-3 win.
“I think three or four games in a row now we’ve come back in the sixth inning or added more runs in the sixth inning,” River Ridge’s Lakyn Shull said. “It’s starting to become a trend, and it’s a scary trend.”
Shull provided River Ridge (8-1) with its biggest hit when her team needed it most. With the Royal Knights trailing 3-1 in the sixth inning, Shull followed Amber Jones’ one-out single by crushing the first pitch from Rachel Enerson over the leftfield fence to tie the game.
“I was thinking, ‘Swing for the light poles,’ ” Shull said. “You’ve got to take what you get and drive it. Especially when Amber got on I thought, ‘There’s no better time than now.’ ”
In the bottom half of the seventh, leadoff batter Kat Femino singled for River Ridge. Brittany Forise bunted Femino to second, and the throw to first from Gulf catcher Nicole Sedivey was wide, allowing Femino to reach third base.
“That (bunt) was probably the play of the game,” River Ridge coach Ernie Beck said.
Morgan Tolle then drove in the winning run for River Ridge with a hot shot to second base that Amber Maxey couldn’t handle in time to throw out Femino at home.
“I guess we’re getting that reputation for late-game heroics,” Beck said. “I don’t like it. I told them in the second inning, pretend it’s the sixth. But they pulled it out.”
Enerson kept River Ridge off balance for much of the game. She allowed seven hits and struck out three in a complete-game performance.