FERDINAND -- Linton-Stockton senior Taneal Church scored from second base on a throwing error on a bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Lady Miners a 1-0 win in the second semifinal of the Class 2A Forest Park Regional Saturday.
With the win, Linton-Stockton advanced to the regional championship game against Tell City, who defeated Clarksville 3-0 in the first semifinal game. The loss ends the season for the Clovers at 16-14.
"I told the girls that they have nothing to be ashamed of," Cloverdale head coach Chuck Mowery said. "They have set the bar for the future teams here."
The game marked the third time the two teams have locked up on the season, with the teams splitting their regular season meetings.
"They beat us 3-0 and we beat them 6-0 earlier in the regular season," Miners head coach Jill Flater said. "We told the girls those two games did not matter and this one very well could be a 1-0 game. It was just a well played game."
Church led off the inning with a double that one-hopped the fence in rightcenter to start the Miners rally. Izzy Carpenter then laid down a bunt in front of the plate. The throw to first ended up hitting Carpenter in the left arm and caromed into rightfield. Church never stopped as she easily scored on the play.
"We have stressed all week that the bunt would come into play in determining the outcome," Flater said.
It was the Clovers inability to lay down a successful sacrifice bunt in the second inning that could have played a pivotal role in the game.
Martika Byrd led off the top of the second with a double just over the outstretched reach of the rightfielder. The next two Clovers popped out to Fougerousse, trying to advance Byrd, as the Clovers could not cash in on the lead-off two-bagger.
"It is pretty ironic that we won sectional games because of the bunt and today we end up getting beat by the bunt," Mowery said. "We have been practicing bunting and bunt defense a lot and today the girls were just a little undeceive. They ended up making the right play, but it was just a little slow. We stress to trust your first instinct."
Freshman Paige Gutierrez was the tough luck loser for the Clovers. She matched Fougerousse pitch-for-pitch and whiffed nine batters for the game. Gutierrez scattered four hits and walked one.
"Paige is a strong young pitcher and she is only going to get better," Mowery said.
Fougerousse allowed just two hits, fanned eight batters and issued one free pass. The junior transfer from White River Valley got out of a major jam in the top of the seventh inning to preserve the win.
After Samantha Smith led off the seventh with a walk and advanced to second on a passed ball she induced a pop-out to third for the first out. A wild pitch allowed Smith to move up to third and put the tying run just 60 feet away. Fougerousse came up big with a strikeout, then ended the game with a lazy fly ball to left field.
"Our defense came up with another outstanding performance today," Flater said. "And Stephanie came ready to go like always."
Flater also had high praise for the direction the Clovers program is heading in.
"Cloverdale is a much improved team from the last couple years," she said. "They have completely turned around their program."
Half of the Clovers losses on the season came by the slimmest of margins -- one run.
"The girls played a great game and I felt like they hit their stride at the right time this season," Mowery said. "This is a solid group and they are fun to coach. The future definitely looks bright here."
Fougerousse, Samantha Butt and Jenica Ringo registered the other three hits for the Miners (19-5). The win marked the fourteenth consecutive win for the Lady Miners.
At Forest Park
Cloverdale 000 000 0 -- 0 2 4
Linton-Stockton 000 001 x -- 1 4 0
Paige Gutierrez and Martika Byrd; Stephanie Fougerousse and Hali Murray.
WP -- Fougerousse
LP -- Gutierrez
2B -- Martika Byrd (C), Church (L)