It looked like it could be over early but wound up turning into one of the most thrilling games so far in the Rainy River District Women's Fastball League's playoffs.
The 10th-seeded Sabaskong Tebinaak used a trio of multi-run innings to outlast the fifth-seeded Fort Frances Mud Dogs 24-19 in a Loser's Side matchup last Wednesday evening at the St. Francis Sports Field.
Tebinaak roared out of the gate, jumping all over Mud Dogs' starting pitcher Heather Wright to build a 6-0 lead after the top of the first.
The Mud Dogs got one right back in the bottom half. Christine Jean and Kaily Greengrass slapped back-to-back one-out singles against Tebinaak starter Candi Kelly-Arch before Shelby Tymkin grounded into a fielder's choice.
Greengrass later was able to score on ball that got away from the Tebinaak catcher to trim it to 6-1.
Jodie Hood then took over for Wright on the rubber to start the top of the second—only to also feel the heat of Sabaskong's offence.
After a one-out triple, Jarrah Tom hit an RBI single to make it 7-1 before Hood was able to escape the rest of the frame unscathed.
The Mud Dogs cut into the lead once again in the bottom of the second, with Hood smacking a lead-off single to centre before stealing second.
After Michelle Cain grounded out, Hood moved to third and then scored on a Sara Glover ground-out to make it 7-2.
Shiloh Beck legged out an infield single, then advanced to third after a pair of pitches got away from the Tebinaak catcher.
Wright then tripled to cash her in to make it 7-3 before a Jean ground-out ended the threat.
Things started to spiral out of control for the Mud Dogs in the third, when multiple base hits and poor fielding led to Sabaskong tacking on nine more runs to build a commanding 16-3 lead.
But the Mud Dogs got one back in the bottom of third when Greengrass led things off with a single. After Tymkin popped out, Greengrass swiped both second and third before scoring on ball that got away from the Tebinaak catcher to trim the margin to 16-4.
Jarrah Tom came through with a two-run, inside-the-park homer in the top of the fourth before an RBI single extended Sabaskong's cushion to 19-4.
Once again, though, the Mud Dogs roared back in the bottom half—plating seven runs to try to get back into the game.
After back-to-back singles by Glover and Beck to lead off the frame, both moved up when a ball got away from the catcher and came in to score on a throwing error to make it 19-6.
Wright came through with an inside-the-park homer of her own before Jean and Greengrass slapped singles.
Tymkin then laced a base hit that went through centre-fielder's legs all the way to fence, allowing all three to score.
Beck came through later in the inning with her second hit of the frame—an RBI single—to trim it to 19-11.
Tebinaak went back up by double digits in top of the fifth, scoring two runs on a pair of bases-loaded walks to push it to 21-11.
After the Mud Dogs bounced back with three runs in the bottom half, a two-run, inside-the-park homer by Savannah Prince made it to 23-14 for Sabaskong.
But showing the resilience they had all game, the Mud Dogs once again put the Tebinaak on their heels in the bottom of the sixth.
Beck led off with an infield single before moving up all the way to third on a passed ball. Wright then cashed her in with a ground-out to trim it to 23-15.
After Jean got aboard with an infield single and Greengrass hit into a fielder's choice, Tymkin cranked her second inside-the-park home run of the game to cut the deficit to 23-17.
Heather Lishman then singled and came into score on a RBI triple by Hood before the latter was cashed in on a single from Cain.
Glover then popped out to end the threat.
Sabaskong tacked on one more run in the top of the seventh on a lead-off triple and a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring.
Despite a lead-off infield single by Beck in the Mud Dogs' last at-bat, Kelly-Arch then retired the side to preserve the win.
Hood took the loss, allowing 18 runs over six innings of work.
The game MVPs were Hood (Mud Dogs) and Rachel Big George (Tebinaak).
In the other Loser's Side matchup, the second-seeded Red Gut Babes cruised to a 10-1 romp to eliminate the 11th-seeded Fort Frances Angels.
Alyssa Windego went yard for the Babes while Tracy Morningstar earned the win.
Rylee Redford was tagged with the loss.
The game MVPs were Morningstar (Babes) and Redford (Angels).
On the Winner's Side of the bracket, the top-ranked Northwest Bay Beavers were upset 8-2 by the fourth-seeded Fort Frances Her-ricanes.
Stacey Patey homered to pace the Her-ricanes' offence while Marrisa Kerry earned the win.
Darcy Smith was saddled with the loss.
The game MVPs were Trish Smith (Beavers) and Kerry (Her-ricanes).
The third-seeded Emo Renegades, meanwhile, doubled the seventh-seeded Couchiching Lady Raiders 6-3.
Karma Andy nabbed the win while Jenn Singleton took the loss.
Game MVPs were Laurie Brown (Renegades) and Steph Legree (Lady Raiders).
Tonight's Winner's Side matchup, which features a 6:30 p.m. start (weather permitting), will see the Her-ricanes battling the Renegades for a spot in the league championship final on Aug. 20.
The Loser's Side matchups, which also go at 6:30 p.m. (weather permitting), has the Lady Raiders hosting the Tebinaak while the Beavers welcome the Babes.