NORTH EAST — Megan Harris nearly tripped over first base as she made her way around the infield in celebration of her first high school career home run.
The North East freshman couldn’t have picked a much better situation to collect the milestone hit.
With senior Jess Choplinsky standing on second base and the game tied with two outs, Harris drove the first pitch she saw from hard-throwing Elkton pitcher Olivia Wheel over the center-field wall to propel the Indians to a come-from-behind, 6-4 victory over the visiting Elks on Wednesday in a battle for the top record in the Susquehanna Division.
“It was just so exciting because I’ve never hit one. There was a lot of adrenalyn in the moment,” Harris said. “I [knew it was gone off the bat]. I was just waiting for a pitch that was outside because that’s where I tend to hit the ball better.”
Harris’ blast capped a clutch inning for the Indians. Catcher Delaney McDilda drew a two-out walk and advanced on a wild pitch to put the tying run at second in a 4-3 game. She eventually crossed the plate when Choplinsky powered a game-tying double into left field.
Choplinsky, who will play college ball at nearby UMBC, finished 2-for-3 with a hit by pitch.
“It was a high pitch and I wanted to drive it into the gap to score Delaney. It was an amazing feeling and everyone was so hyped. It’s just exciting,” Choplinsky said of her double. “I knew once she got to second, I really wanted to score her. I did everything I could to put the ball in play.”
It marked the second time in the game that North East (7-2 overall, 6-1 division) battled from behind.The Indians scored twice in the third and once more in the fourth to go ahead 3-2 after Elkton (5-1, 5-4) plated a pair in the top of the first.
However, North East again fell behind in the top of the sixth when Azarea Visser tied the game with a towering home run to left field and Iyana Jurry followed three batters later with a double to right field, scoring Jillian Holmes.
“That’s what we talked about after, the fact they didn’t give up. They had to come back two times in the game, and doing it in the sixth inning, that was difficult,” North East head coach Kim Evans said. “Jess got it started with some leadership out there, and it is big to see Megan [come through]. I think we’re going to see some big things from her in the years to come.”
North East took the 3-2 lead in the fourth when Aubrey Runyons doubled, advanced to second on a bunt by Morgan Sargent and scored on a single by Abby Riley that just made it over the shortstop’s glove.
It came one inning after Sargent and Riley both scored to tie the game 2-2.
“I’ve been pretty confident with them all year. I knew the first time around we had to adjust, it was the first time this year seeing better pitching,” Evans said. “That was a little bit of a challenge.”
Wheel had five strikeouts over the first three innings and finished with a complete game. She was countered by Sargent, who settled in after a rocky first inning to go the distance with two strikeouts.
Ainsley Jackson, who led off the game with a single and went to third on a two-base error, scored the first run of the game on a base hit by the next hitter, Abby Sprouse. Sprouse then moved up on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit by Autumn Simpson.
“We talked about that before the game started, that in order to have any chance, we had to jump on them early. That would help give us the motivation to carry us through the next six innings,” Elkton head coach Kim Brown said. “That’s what we needed and I’m glad we jumped out there and got the bats moving.”
The two teams will battle again in the regular season with a potential third meeting in the 2A East Region playoffs.
“We’ll see them one more time and hopefully we can take that one. I imagine we’ll see them the playoffs, too. We’re really equally skilled and we each have one loss now in the division,” Brown said. “We are going to be paying attention to each other through the rest of the regular season.”
Follow Jordan Schatz on Twitter: @Jordan_Whig