NORTH KINGSTOWN — The streak is still alive.
After playing five drama-free contests that were decided by nine or more runs, unbeaten Lincoln encountered its toughest test in nearly a month when the Lions trekked down to Ryan Park for a Monday night showdown with second-place North Kingstown.
And while the Lions were able to come away with a 3-2 win, it was far from easy, and it took eight innings and some daring baserunning from Casie Beauchemin to produce the game-winning run.
In the eighth, the international tiebreaker rule came into play, meaning that each squad was going to start their half of the inning with a runner on second base.
Beauchemin, who made the last out of the seventh for the Lions, was the runner on base, and she went to third when Adriana Toro dropped a bunt along the third-base line that appeared to be rolling foul, but was picked up by third baseman Devin Neary, who was unable to deliver a strong enough throw to get the speedy Toro out at first.
That brought Lindsay Mayer to the plate, and on N.K. pitcher Taylor Butler's first pitch to her, Toro took off for second.
N.K. catcher Heather Jackson threw the ball to second, but the throw was cut off between the mound and second base by second baseman Liz Finelli, who saw Beauchemin leading far off third and quickly fired the ball to third.
Beauchemin, who would have been picked off if she went back to the bag, broke for the plate, and she beat Neary’s throw to Jackson on a close play with a nice hook slide.
The Lions nearly scored another run two pitches later when Mayer surprised everyone with a bunt directly in front of the plate, but Jackson scooped up the ball and tagged out Toro, who bravely tried to score on it.
Nevertheless, Beauchemin’s run was more than enough support for the Lions and Mayer, who scattered seven hits, struck out 10 batters (including the side in the first two innings), and walked two batters in her mound outing.
“It was just a great game,” head coach Dick Ryan said after the victory. “That was the best team we’ve faced all year, and I’ve got to give my kids a lot of credit. Lindsay proved why she’s the best pitcher in the state. This is just a fantastic win for our program. North Kingstown is an outstanding team.”
The Lions, who are now 10-0 in the league and have now won 32 straight games dating back to last year’s undefeated championship season, scored their first two runs in the top of the second on a two-run double by Lauren Hervieux.
Butler, who ended up with a six-hitter that included six strikeouts and four walks, dished out free passes to the first two batters she faced, Emily Bouthillette and Stacey Mayer, and one out later, Hervieux hammered a 1-1 pitch into the gap in left-center.
The Skippers, who fell to 10-2 and were coming off their first loss of the season, a 2-0 defeat to East Providence last Friday, scored their first run in the third on a squeeze bunt by Finelli that knocked in Jackson, who led off with a walk and sped to third on an infield throwing error.
N.K. nearly plated another run later in the inning when Neary tried to score Butler from second with a two-out single to center, but Toro, the Lions’ center fielder, threw a bullet to the plate to nab Butler for the final out.
In the sixth, the Skippers tied the game on a sacrifice fly to center by Amy Augenstein that scored Rachel Kantor, who lofted a triple to the fence in right-center after striking out in her first two at-bats.