ELLENBORO — It was beautiful afternoon at East Rutherford High School Saturday afternoon.
With the mercury in the thermometer pushing 80 and a light breeze, this wasn’t the weather that pushed Tuesday’s Game 1 to Wednesday and brought rain during the fourth and fifth innings of Game 2.
The day became even prettier for Forbush fans who made the 100-plus mile trip as Forbush’s Taylor Wooten drove in Allison Mitchell and Mallory Choplin, who had both singled.
But the Cavaliers responded with two runs in the bottom of the first and went on to claim a 6-4, 2A regional series-clinching victory in front of more than 400 fans.
“You come this far,” Forbush Coach Rachel Davis said. “It’s just a tough loss.
“After we scored those first two runs, I thought we were going to be on a roll. They answered back.”
The Cavaliers will meet Jordan-Matthews in Raleigh Friday and Saturday to decide the 2A championship.
East Rutherford won Game 1 in Ellenboro Wednesday, 9-6. Forbush won Game 2 in East Bend Thursday, 10-1, to set up a third game.
The Cavaliers added another run in the second, but the Falcons tied it at 3 in the third as Mitchell singled; moved to second on a bunt single by Choplin; and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Wooten. It was Wooten’s seventh RBI in two games.
East Rutherford went ahead 5-3 in the fourth, but the Falcons again responded by scoring one of their own. Mitchell, with her seventh hit in her last seven plate appearances, doubled to start the inning. Mitchell moved to third on a groundout by Choplin and scored on a sacrifice fly by Sydney Miller.
The Cavaliers added an insurance run in the sixth.
“They played as a team,” East Rutherford Coach Laura Hopper Ray said. “They played with their hearts today. We just had fun.”
Jordan-Matthews advanced with a two-game sweep of Northeastern, winning 4-2 and 9-2.
“I don’t know much about them,” Ray said. “I just know it’s Jordan-Matthews.”
East Rutherford has not won a state softball championship.
The scene, which has been testy between the two teams and their fans, turned ugly after Game 3. Many of the East Rutherford students in attendance rushed the field as their team began to celebrate their regional championship.
After the Falcons secured their equipment and walked out to leftfield to talk among themselves and with their coaches, the students began to chant “We are the Cavs; don’t you forget it.”
Davis said, almost two hours later, that all she will remember about East Rutherford is negative. “Their fans were pretty rude,” Davis said. “That’s what’s going to stick in my mind.”
Davis said she also expected the Falcons to receive their regional-runner-up award following the game. “We didn’t even get a ceremony,” Davis said.
Of Forbush, Davis said she will remember “the way they played. They kept fighting. They don’t give up. They have class.
“They’re just a good group of kids,” Davis said. “Every one of them makes good grades. Thus is a well-rounded group of girls.”
Forbush played Saturday’s game with no seniors. “Every one of these girls is coming back next year,” Davis said. “We didn’t have a senior in the field.”
F 201 010 0 – 4 6 2
ER 210 201 x – 6 10 1
F: Sydney Miller and Marissa Lineberry. ER: Savannah Davis and Emily Dotson. 2B: Leanna Briscoe (ER), Allison Mitchell (F). Records: F 22-6, ER 25-3.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.