BREWER — Brewer High School lefthander Emily Cox has spent the second half of the season battling tendinitis. Morgan Haradon was diagnosed with pneumonia on Monday.
But the duo combined on a three-hitter Friday and the top-seeded Witches capitalized on some good fortune to score two runs in the fifth inning en route to a 3-0 triumph over youthful Edward Little High School of Auburn in their Eastern Maine Class A quarterfinal at Coffin Field.
Brewer (16-1) hosts No. 4 seed Skowhegan (11-6) in Saturday’s 4 p.m. semifinal. Skowhegan ousted Bangor 2-1.
The eighth-seeded Eddies — with one senior, two juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen in their starting lineup — finished up at 9-8.
The game was scoreless entering the bottom of the fifth thanks to the defensive wizardry of EL sophomore shortstop Ashlee Arnold, who turned in five eye-opening gems including two barehanded plays.
“That’s probably the best shortstop play I’ve seen all year,” raved Brewer coach Skip Estes.
“She was really, really good,” said Haradon, whose bizarre two-run double highlighted the fifth-inning rally.
“She’s the most athletic person I know,” said EL senior righthander Miranda Martin, who turned in an impressive eight-hitter with three strikeouts and and four walks.
Sarah Babin opened the decisive fifth inning with a ground ball up the middle that appeared headed for center field until Arnold made a brilliant play to get to the ball and then gunned her out with a strong throw.
“This is the most focused I’ve ever been in a game,” said Arnold. “I thought our team was really focused and did a great job. We’re really young.”
Deaven Smith started the rally by ripping a double to right-center and, one out later, Jordan Nickerson drew a walk.
It appeared as though Nickerson was going to make the final out of the inning when she hit a foul popup but EL first baseman Kory Norcross tripped over the bag and the ball hit her glove and dropped out.
Haradon then ripped a line drive toward right fielder Kristen Whittaker, who ranged to her right and was in position to make the catch only to have it sail past her for a double.
“I tracked it and followed it and then I don’t know what happened,” said Whittaker. “I just lost it.”
“My heart dropped when that happened,” said Martin. “(Haradon) got a good rip off my fastball. If only our right fielder was a little bit taller.”
Haradon said, “I just went with the pitch. The wind took it and I was like ‘no, she’s going to catch it.’ Thankfully, she didn’t.”
Brewer added an insurance run in the sixth when Cox singled, Lindsay Houp walked and Babin singled home pinch-runner Kelly Hatt.
Cox allowed two hits over 5 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and two walks. She threw 78 pitches, 45 for strikes.
“I just tried to let the game and the atmosphere take over and help me ignore the pain,” said Cox. “I thought I pitched as well as I could.”
“I know she had tendinitis but she still pitched a real good game,” said Martin.
Haradon came on with two on and one out and Norcross greeted her with an infield single to load the bases.
But Haradon struck out Kennedy Hubbard and induced Danielle Rock to pop to first.
Haradon retired all three hitters in the seventh, two via strikeouts.
“I was just trying to get outs,” said Haradon.
Babin and Cox had two singles apiece for Brewer. Norcross had a pair for EL.