Utica Ford opens up postseason play with 6-3 win over Dakota, avenging pair of regular season losses
Sterling Heights – Despite losing its two regular season games against Macomb Dakota, Utica Ford entered the postseason needing to beat Dakota in order to keep its season alive.
The third time was the charm for the Falcons.
Ford scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning to help propel the Falcons to a 6-3 victory over Dakota in a Division 1 pre-district at Ford on Tuesday.
Ford coach Matt Joseph said that he and his team talked before the game about the two losses Dakota being close games and knew his team would come out confident looking to advance to Saturday’s district semifinal.
“We talked about that and we’ve played with everybody this year even though we haven’t come out on the winning end,” he said. “We’ve lost some really tough games which has tested a lot of our character, but today, we finished it. There’s not a team that we’ve played this year that we haven’t compete with and haven’t been right there at the end, but we haven’t been able to finish the deal and today we finished the deal.”
Ford (24-14-1) will face Sterling Heights Stevenson in a district semifinal at noon on Saturday at Stevenson. The winner of that game will face the winner of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley-Utica in the district championship game also on Saturday.
With the game tied 3-3 in the top of the fifth Ford took its first lead since the first inning when Emily Karas grounded into a fielder’s choice that produced a run to give the Falcons a 4-3 lead.
The next batter, Maddy Gross, delivered another RBI ground ball that would push the Ford lead to 5-3.
Joseph said that he felt his team did the little things right on Tuesday, which helped proved to be the difference, something that he saw his team do in its win over Catholic League champion Warren Regina on Friday.
“It’s crucial and it started on Friday against Regina,” he said. “We had a nice win and did the little things there as well and when you get to the playoffs, every run counts. When you can stretch it out from one run to two runs to three runs, it makes a big difference and we were able to that.”
The Falcons added an insurance run in the seventh when Kayla Boland notched her third RBI of the game to make it 6-3.
Boland said that she and her teammates were motivated to play Dakota for a third time and echoed her coach’s sentiment that her team was able to close out the game.
“The motivation today was losing those two games to Dakota,” he said. “We came in confident and we knew we were going to give them a good game and we knew we were going to finish this one out. We hadn’t been finishing in the sixth and seventh inning, but we definitely came out as a team the last couple of innings and finished that one out together. It was a great team win today.”
After Ford jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a Boland RBI, Dakota answered back with two runs in the second to take a 2-1 lead after an RBI single from Kattie Popko.
Ford later knotted the game at 2-2, but in the third Dakota regained the lead when pitcher Kendahl Dunford produced an RBI single to put her team back on top, 3-2.
Dakota coach Rick Fontaine credited Ford pitcher Nikki Sorgi for her effort in the circle as she limited a usually high-octane offense to just three runs and scoreless in the final four innings.
“Their pitcher pitched real well today,” he said. “We’ve been a pretty good offensive team, we won the MAC Red and scored lots of runs this year, but we didn’t have our best day hitting, we tried to just hit the ball hard and I think that was the biggest contributor to that.”