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When Taylor Betz stepped up to the plate on Monday afternoon in the bottom of the seventh in a tie game against rival Maryvale with the winning run on third base, there was just one thing going through the Cleveland Hill senior’s mind.

“I want to beat them,” she said. “That’s it; that’s all I was thinking about.”

She did just that. Betz smoked a base hit to left-center field to drive in Brooke Seifert for the game-winner and the Eagles posted a come-from-behind 6-5 win over the cross-town rival Flyers in front of a nice home crowd.

The winning hit for the Eagles … pic.twitter.com/HHKakzibaz


“It’s a non-leaguer but it’s a big one,” Justin Ditzel said. “The kids all look forward to it. You run into them at the mall and you can say, ‘Hey, we beat you.’ It’s a nice game we try to get in at the end of the regular season every year.”

Betz was also the star of the show from the pitching circle, collecting 13 strikeouts in the complete-game win.

The win improved Cleveland Hill’s record to 13-2 overall. The Eagles will be a No. 3 seed for the Class B-2 Section VI tournament and host Akron at 4:45 p.m. Thursday in the quarterfinals.

“When we have Taylor on the mound our bats coming alive, anything can happen,” Ditzel said. “Looking forward to it.”

Maryvale (10-5) led 5-3 entering the bottom of the sixth inning but Cleveland Hill tied it at 5-5 on a two-run single by Alison McIntosh. Seifert led off the bottom of the seventh by drawing a four-pitch walk. She advanced to third when Anna Cervino’s hard-hit ball was misplayed in the outfield, setting the stage for Betz.

“We didn’t give up and then in the seventh we got some clutch hitting from my 3-4-5 hitters,” Ditzel said. “I told Hannah to find a way to get on base and she draws a walk. Then Anna hit that rocket to center and Taylor came through with the big hit to win it.”

Cleveland Hill enters the playoffs having won 10 of its last regular season games. Not bad for a team that has just two seniors on the 15-player squad. But despite being young, the Eagles have built a bond that has made them tough to beat.

“No fighting, no drama, nothing like that – that’s the big thing,” Betz said. “Hopefully we can go far. We believe in ourselves and I think we can do it.”

Christie McGee-Ross was 4-for-4 with a home run, three runs batted in and two runs scored for the Flyers (10-4). Maryvale is also a third-seed in the Class A-2 bracket and opens at home against Pioneer at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday.

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Mike Pidanick is a well respected high-school sports journalist in the WNY area. he has been contributing to the WNYAthletics.com site since August 2016. Pidanick's work can also be found in the Tonawanda Sun.