Spruce Mountain shortstop Haley Turcotte waits to put the tag on incoming Oak Hill base runner Mahala Smith at second base in softball game in Jay on Wednesday. Sun Journal photo by Tony BlasiJAY — No matter who came out on top in Wednesday’s softball game, Oak Hill coach Allyson Collins and Spruce Mountain skipper Clint Brooks couldn’t hide their pride or wide smiles after they left the diamond.

The Raiders kept their distance even though the Phoenix acted like an industrial corrosive and ate away at Oak Hill’s lead. But the Raiders erupted with three runs in the top of the seventh inning to shelve persistent Spruce Mountain with a 13-8 victory.

“We knew were going to have to hit well,” Collins said. “They are a great hitting team as well. We were going to have to match their bats. So our bats were alive.

“It was an offensive game for sure. We definitely had a better defensive performance. We had one inning that was a little shaky. They scored a number of runs. Other than that, our defense was pretty solid. But offensively, we put the bat on the ball — just confident going into every inning that we could score runs. So no matter how many runs they got on the board, we could match them.”

Both teams knocked the ball around hard, with the Phoenix (7-6) emerging with 13 hits to Oak Hill’s 12.

“How do you lose 13-8, and I don’t feel all that bad,” Brooks said. “We had golden opportunities. We had two or three different innings where we left runners at two and three with two outs and we couldn’t get them across. I think what really hurt was the three runs they scored in the seventh because it was a two-run (deficit) and all of sudden it is a five-run deficit.

“I am optimistic until that third out is played, but the kids came out and played hard tonight. The big issue today is we had a little tendency to fall apart after someone makes a mistake. Hey, I mean we hit the ball well. We had three or four kids who pounded the ball.”

The Raiders (9-3) were leading 10-6 by the end of the fourth inning. Knowing Spruce Mountain was’t just going to go away, Oak Hill put three more runs on the board in the seventh inning to keep the Phoenix at bay.

But before Oak Hill conjured up three more runs, the Phoenix were closing fast on the Raiders.

Spruce Mountain scored a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Shortstop Haley Turcotte got on with a sacrifice and catcher Abby Ortiz followed with single.  Pitcher Adelle Foss, who took the loss after going the distance the entire game, belted a two-run single, putting the Phoenix within striking distance of the Raiders, who were holding on to a 10-8 lead heading into the seventh.

“Adelle, I know she is going to look at this game and say, ‘Geez, I gave up 13 runs. Well, a lot of that was not on her,” Brooks said. “ Yes, some of it was. She had some hit batsmen. Pitchers feel like everything is one their shoulders. This wasn’t her best game from the circle, but at the same time, it could have been a whole lot worse, and this is a good club. I recognize that.

“Look at Turcotte. I told her, ‘Haley, that was a good a game at shortstop as I have seen anybody in this league play in years. She was just a vacuum. There was put-out after put-out, and yet we make errors that shouldn’t happen, so …”

But the Raiders responded with three-runs in the top of the seventh. With one out, Julie Noel and Sadie Waterman each singled. Molly Flaherty ripped an RBI single, bringing home Noel. Outfielder Miranda Kramer launched a two-run double, sending Waterman and Kramer across the plate to give the Raiders more breathing room with a 13-8 lead.

Waterman, who earned the win, relieved Flaherty and pitched the final out of the second inning after the Phoenix tied the game thanks to RBI singles by Brooke Buotte and Emily Castonguay. Foss came home on passed ball after she got on with an error at shortstop.

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