In addition to outdueling Jordan Roney, her more-heralded pitching opponent, Key West High's Desirae Laguna's gritty dive into first base in the bottom of the eighth inning led to a 4-3 victory for the Conchs over Marathon in a softball thriller Saturday afternoon that ended with an "international tie-breaker" at the Back Yard.
The game was tied, 2-2, after the seventh. Under the tie-breaker, each team began the eighth inning with a runner on second base and no outs.
For Marathon, that was Amanda Bruland, and she quickly scored when Laguna threw wildly to first base on a sacrifice bunt by Hannah Child. After an infield hit, Laguna than retired the next three batters in a row to keep the score at 3-2.
Jayla DiGennaro took second to begin the bottom of the eighth for the Conchs. Roney retired the first two hitters and appeared on the verge of victory. But Anjelika Green drove in DiGennaro with a single to tie the score at 3-3. Laguna -- only hours removed from her grandfather's funeral -- then hit a ball off first baseman Sacha Olivera's glove and dove safely into the bag as Olivera hurried to get back and make a tag.
"If it's close and you dive, they usually call you safe," Laguna said afterward, rubbing a knee she had hurt on the play.
The inning was still alive, but Roney only had to get Brooke Marsden to extend the game. Marsden, however, lofted a fly ball that fell into right field for a hit. Green scored and the celebration began. "I was just trying to get the run home," said Marsden, a senior who had never had a game-winning hit.
The game opened with both teams scoring a run in the first inning -- Marathon on doubles by Roney and Savannah Rodamer, and Key West on a double by Brooke Wood and a single by Jewls Castillo.
Just settling in in the shady stands was a crowd that seemed composed of mostly Marathon rooters. They included a woman who kept imploring to the Dolphin batters, "Come on, baby girl, you got this," and a man who wore a Yankees shirt with RUTH on the back. Former County Commissioner Mario DiGennaro also was there.
White-shirted and cologne-scented, DiGennaro, whose granddaughter Jayla was the Conch freshman catcher, wasn't taking sides. "I'm rooting for all the children," he said, adding that Jayla is "the closest person in the world to me."
Meanwhile, Roney ("Rooney," mispronounced the public-address man) and Laguna settled down to their duel.
Key West took a 2-1 lead in the third on a sacrifice fly by Castillo, but the Dolphins tied it in the fourth on a slap-single to left by Brandi Spalten. Sterling plays by Castillo at third base prevented the Dolphins from having a big inning.
Laguna allowed nine hits, struck out four and didn't issue a walk. Roney allowed 11 hits, struck out five and walked one.
Key West almost won the game in the bottom of the seventh. With two out, Angela Niles singled and Wood doubled, but Roney got DiGennaro on a grounder to third.
"We had to win this game," Key West coach Ashley James said after her team improved to 2-2.
Marathon coach Sean McDonald said, "It was one of those games. It lived up to its billing but it didn't define us and it didn't define Key West. I look forward to them coming to our house."
But on this February Saturday, that April 2 game seemed far way.
Dolphins rebound from loss to Conchs
Marathon shook off Saturday's loss by blanking a solid Carrollton School team in Miami on Monday.
Jordan Roney pitched a complete game for the Dolphins, allowing just one hit and striking out five batters.
Junior Savannah Rodamer provided all the offense Marathon would need on the first pitch of her first-inning at-bat. She hit a three-run home run over the left field fence to put the Dolphins up 3-0.
Marathon added two more runs in the fifth inning to make it 5-0. Rodamer knocked in all five Dolphins runs and the team committed a season-low two errors defensively.
Roney finished 3-for-5 at the plate and scored two runs, while Brandi Spalten was 3-for-4.
Marathon (3-1-1) is scheduled to host Riverdale High School out of Fort Myers on Friday at 5 p.m. and on Saturday at 10 a.m.
Staff writer Ryan McCarthy contributed to this report.