AUDUBON – Lindsey Cramer and Brooke Acker are battery mates and Tuesday, in the South Jersey Group 2 final, they took that connection to the next level.
Cramer, the junior pitcher, kept the powerful Audubon lineup in check for seven innings and, Acker, the freshman catcher, supplied the power at the plate to lead Delran High School to its first sectional title in 24 years.
Cramer pitched a six-hitter with 10 strikeouts and Acker stroked an RBI single in the first inning and slammed a two-run homer well over the fence in left field in the third inning as Delran, the No. 2 seed in the section, beat Audubon, the top seed, 4-1, for the sectional title, its first since 1995.
Delran (19-5) will play the Central Jersey champion, Thursday at Stockton University at 1:30. That game was halted in the sixth inning with Bordentown leading Robbinsville. 6-0. It will be resumed today.
“Since I’ve been coaching here, we always come into the season with the mindset that we want to win the conference title and a sectional title,” Delran coach Danielle Worman said. “Things worked out for us in the conference which helped us win the division and they’ve been very sound and focused throughout the playoffs, so they’ve put themselves in position to do this.”
They got off to a good start. Zee Zee Shreter led off the game with a double and took third base on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by Marissa Brignola. Two batters later, Acker served a single into right field for a 1-0 lead.
“It really settled the nerves actually,” Cramer said of the early run. “Putting a number on the board so early, I knew, if we did that, it would really take the pressure off the team.”
Cramer struggled with her control a little in the early going. Audubon had runners on first and second in the first inning, but Cramer also struck out three batters. In the second inning, the Green Wave loaded the bases with two outs, but Cramer was able to work her way out of that jam as well.
“In the beginning I struggled, and I knew that,” Cramer said. “I knew every inning was going to be battle because they can all hit, and I knew every inning was going to be harder than the inning before.”
Audubon (18-4) tied the game in the top of the third inning on Morgan Hearn’s homer over the center field fence, but that lead was short-lived. Delran’s Kylie Quaker led off the top of the fourth inning with a single and Acker followed with her blast over the left field fence to give the Bears a 3-`1 lead, but they knew it wasn’t over yet.
“You always want more,” she said. “You are never comfortable, but it did give us little bit of juice.”
Delran added an unearned run in the top of the seventh to make it 4-1, but the Bears were at the game when the Green Wave trailed by six runs and scored seven in the bottom of the sixth inning to beat Cinnaminson, 8-7, to reach the championship game.
Audubon’s Dana Medlar opened the bottom of the seventh with a single. One out later, Hearn hit one well out to left but foul. After Worman went to the circle to meet with Cramer, Acker and the entire Bears infield, Hearn eventually walked, but Cramer retired the next two batters on routine fly balls to end the game.
“I didn’t want to intentionally walk her, and I didn’t try, but I didn’t want to give up any more runs either,” Cramer said. “I knew they weren’t going to give up so I knew if I worked harder than them, that we would be able to do it.”
Now it’s on to the state semifinals for the Bears. In 1995, when they last won a sectional title, they also won the state title. They are looking forward to the challenge.
“Our odds are as good as anyone else winning so we’re just going to go out and have some more fun,” Acker said.
S.J. Group 2
Delran 4, Audubon 1
Delran 102 000 1 – 4 7 3
Audubon 001 000 1 – 1 5 2
HR- Acker, D; Hearn, A.
2B – Shreter, Casperite, D.
WP – Cramer. LP – Yurcaba.