May 31, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
An undefeated season and a run to the Section III Class B championship nearly got derailed for the Solvay softball team in the same round where it fell a season ago.
The difference this time was that the Bearcats reached down deep and, making two different comebacks, upended General Brown 5-4 in Thursday night’s Class B semifinal at the Gillette Road complex in Cicero.
For Solvay, it was a nervous occasion right until the moment Shanen Sullivan dashed across the plate with the winning run on Sydney Cimini’s groundout in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Only then could the Bearcats exhale and look ahead to Saturday’s championship game at Syracuse University against no. 6 seed Holland Patent, who ended the sectional run of no. 7 seed Marcellus with a 3-0 shutout in the other semifinal at Gillette.
The tension of that game paled next to what took place earlier in the evening. Solvay, the top seed, was put in a position it had never faced all season against General Brown, a no. 4 seed fortified by the tough competition it faced in the Frontier League.
Immediately, the Lions got to Jackie Gardner for two runs in the top of the first, the key blow a long double from Hope VanBrocklin that nearly got over the fence.
Through the first four innings, it remained 2-0, Solvay getting runners on base against GB pitcher Katie Pitkin, but unable to convert. And it got worse when, in the top of the fifth, the Lions tacked on a run to make it 3-0.
It looked like Pitkin would do exactly what CBA’s Jordan Sheridan had done in the 2012 sectional semifinals and contain Solvay enough to produce an upset. Just in time, though, the Bearcats would break through in the bottom of the fifth.
Two walks and a single loaded the bases for Chelsie Delperuto, whose deep fly ball scored her team’s first run. Then Julie Gardner, walked twice earlier in the game, got a Pitkin offering she liked and drilled a double to the wall, scoring two runs as Solvay pulled even, 3-3.
GB fought back, reclaiming the lead 4-3 in the top of the sixth on Kayla Gaffney’s RBI single. And in the top of the seventh, it had a chance to expand the lead, but great defensive plays by shortstop Kiersten DiBello and left fielder Nicole Antonacci kept Solvay within one.
Antonacci led off the bottom of the seventh by drawing a walk. Sullivan then dropped down a bunt, something Solvay had failed to execute earlier in the game, but this one stayed fair, and a throwing error put Antonacci on third and Sullivan on second with the possible winning run.
Delperuto again hit a deep fly ball, scoring Antonacci to tie it 4-4. Gardner walked for the third time, and Cimini hit a grounder to third, freezing Sullivan. On the throw to first, though, Sullivan took off for home and just beat the tag to win the game.
Having escaped, Solvay now watched as Holland Patent earned the other berth in the sectional final by frustrating a Marcellus side that had knocked off no. 2 seed Adirondack in Monday’s quarterfinal.
They were 0-0 when, in the top of the second, back-to-back doubles by Laura Meyer and Leah Harter put the Golden Knights on the board.
HP would tack on single runs in the fourth and sixth innings, too, both involving Korey Bunal, who tripled and scored in the fourth and singled in the sixth to bring home another run.
The Golden Knights never put together a big rally against Marcellus pitcher Molly MacLachlan, but did enough and turned the task over to its own sophomore ace, Peyton Cole.
In every single inning, Marcellus put a runner on base. Each time, though, Cole would escape through coaxing a ground ball or pop fly in the infield.
A big moment came in the top of the fifth, with the Mustangs down 2-0. Two singles, by Jayme Lema and Jennie Delia, plus an error had the tying runs in scoring position, but Cole stayed calm, getting MacLachlan and Meghan Witkowski to pop out.
Marcellus also stranded two runners in the sixth, and in the seventh saw Aubrey Kotary make a running catch in right field to end the game, and the Mustangs’ title hopes.