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Timely hitting and solid defense can be deadly. The SYA Xplosion (Centerville, Va.) used that formula perfectly Tuesday to down the Ohio Jaguars, 7-1, at the USA-ASA 18-and-under National Tournament.

The Jaguars (12-17) jumped out to an early lead, but surrendered five runs after committing a pair of errors in the home half of the third as they dropped their second straight game in pool play.

Sammy French was hit by a pitch, Fiona Watson reached on a dropped throw at first base and Macy Luck drew a walk to load the bases with no outs in the third, bringing Randi Burney to the plate.

Burney singled to center to score French and Watson. After a strikeout, Rachel Lee hit a dribbler back to the circle, but the throw to the plate was in the dirt for another error, allowing Luck to score for a 3-1 lead for the Xplosion (21-9).

“Most of their runs came on errors,” Jaguars manager Scott Francis said. “We kept innings going. They had one big inning. That’s what’s hurt us all summer.”

Jessie Burney drove in Luck with a groundout before Emily Simon delivered a two-out RBI double to left-center to score Randi Burney for the 5-1 lead.

The two Jaguars’ errors led to three unearned runs in the inning.

“That’s the standard MO,” Xplosion co-manager Al Luck said. “We tell them we don’t want them in the batter’s box looking to hit the ball to the fence. We tell them to put the ball in play and good things will happen.”

The Jaguars committed four errors in the contest, bringing their total for the tournament to nine. Just three of the seven runs the Xplosion scored were earned, spoiling a strong outing for losing pitcher Sarah Urchek (0-2).

“I think the pitchers have done this long enough they understand not everything is in their control,” Francis said. “All they can do is their part. Nobody on a team is going to be happy with losing. They can go 4-for-4 and lose and they’re not happy. But they take some satisfaction knowing they went out and did their part.”

The Jaguars threatened in the top of the fifth, but an outstanding play killed the potential rally.

Urchek singled with one out and moved up on a passed ball.  Jenna Lower followed with a single, putting runners on the corners with one out.

But the threat ended there. Rebecca Eierman was called out for stepping on the plate as she made contact with the ball. Rachel Francis then hit a liner over Xplosion shortstop Randi Burney. At the last second, Burney and stretched her 5-foot-7 frame, reaching as high over her head as possible, and snatched the ball from the air, ending the inning and saving at least two runs for the Xplosion.

“That’s the difference,” Xplosion co-manager Jim Purtell said. “It was 5-1 at that point and they could’ve scored two. It would have been a lot tighter of a game after that.”

“Hitting is contagious,” Francis said. “You hit a nice line drive and the shortstop jumps and catches it and takes away a run,” Scott Francis said. “We just couldn’t get a big two-out hit.”

The Xplosion added a run in the fifth when Emily Simon singled and scored on a single by French. They plated a run in the sixth when Randi Burney reached on an error and scored on an infield single by Rachel Lee.

Alex Barnes led off the Jaguars’ second with a double and took third on Sam Szwejbka’s single. Szwejbka stole second and Barnes was thrown out at the plate on as Brittany Krainz reached on a fielder’s choice. A groundout by Urchek scored Szwejbka for the Jaguars’ only run.

Sarah Vrabel led the Jaguars with a single and double and Taylor Lampela doubled.

The Jaguars will play at 8:30 a.m. today with the possibility of playing a second game at a ime to be determined.

Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.

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