PROVIDENCE – Saturday afternoon at Rhode Island College seemed like something out of a movie, or worse if you’re a Red Sox and Prout fan, the 1986 World Series.
With the Crusaders up 8-4 and the game seemingly in hand, several bunt singles and a critical error at second base led to a four-run seventh winning, en route to a 10-9 final in eight.
“That’s why you play the game,” Prout head coach Mark Paliotti said. “No one’s ever out of a game.”
With a four-run cushion, the seventh seemed to start off innocently enough. Portsmouth (16-6) sophomore Alison Hamilton was safe at first on a bunt, followed by another bunt single by Portsmouth’s usual slugger, senior Noelle Robinson.
Junior Amy Hamilton immediately made the game a lot more interesting with a double to deep left field. Prout (16-7) senior Kim Rameika finally got the first out of the inning, although in dangerous fashion, as Jamie Proffitt flew out to deep center field.
Pitcher and senior Kelly Beck came up, representing the tying run, and she stroked a single to left field through the infield. Amy Hamilton moved up to third on the play, leaving second open.
With senior Mary Sweeney at the plate, Portsmouth head coach Tom Galib subbed in junior Taylor Warner to run for Beck. Sweeney struck out, but Warner moved up to second thanks to defensive indifference.
The pivotal play came with senior Morgan Williams at the plate. She hit a medium-speed, catchable groundball to Prout second baseman and senior Katelyn Chadwick. However, the ball rattled off the edge of her glove, and both runners on base – Amy Hamilton and Warner – scored.
“She got there, the ball went off [her glove], and that was it,” Paliotti said. “The ball bounced the way for them.”
It was a drastic change from the rest of the game though, which saw the Patriots commit 10 errors in eight innings. While a steady drizzle and light rain fell throughout, most of the errors were seemingly from nerves, as opposed to a lack of grip or footing.
Galib said he stressed to his team to keep their composure despite an 8-3 Prout lead, noting that they still had nine outs to go.
“Back then [early in the game], we were just trying to get them settled down,” he said.
Given the drama in the seventh, the rest of the game felt anti-climatic, much like the aforementioned 1986 World Series. In the bottom of the seventh, Beck struck out a pair of Crusaders and elicited a weak pop out to Sweeney, sending the game to extra innings.
In softball, both teams start with a runner at second base in extra innings. Sarah DelSanto, who made the final out for Portsmouth in the seventh, was the runner.
Freshman Eileen Eads flew out to right field, but DelSanto tagged up and moved to third on the play. Alison Hamilton reached base on another bunt single.
With one out, Prout senior Emily Caswell had the defensive play of the game to momentarily keep Portsmouth off the scoreboard.
On a hard hit ball to short, Caswell looked DelSanto back to third, and even though she was deep on the infield, she threw to first and got Robinson out. Alison Hamilton moved up to second.
Caswell would match that effort a batter later, albeit in a losing cause. Amy Hamilton hit another double to the fence, plating DelSanto and Alison Hamilton, but a strong relay from Caswell got Amy Hamilton at third.
Prout slugger Alycia Marsello had a two-run blast in the fourth inning, but struck out to end the seventh. As a result, she started out the eighth on second base, and the Crusaders mounted a rally that ultimately fell short.
Kaitlynn Ueno started the inning out by flying out to center. However, Marsello moved up to third on a passed ball. Chadwick, representing the tying run, drew a one-out walk.
Junior Emma Pollard came in to run for Chadwick, and she moved up to second on a single by junior Meghan Baxter. Marsello scored on the single. The Patriots’ fielding woes then resurfaced, as an error by Eads, the third baseman, led to a bases loaded situation with one out.
However, Eads’ chance at redemption came quickly. Prout junior Sarah Duxbury hit a weak comebacker to the pitcher for the inning’s second out. And Eads ended the game – She knocked down a line drive by Prout junior Casey Cavanaugh and took the ball to third for an unassisted out.
Although it isn’t official yet, Portsmouth might get a bit more time than originally scheduled to savor the victory.
Heavy rains are forecast for today, putting the Patriots’ 1 p.m. game at Rhode Island College with Middletown (18-4) in doubt. The winner of that game will play winner’s bracket finalist and top seed East Greenwich 5:30 p.m. Monday – or Tuesday, assuming there are no scheduling conflicts – at Rhode Island College.
Looking for another look at yesterday’s game? You can read the story by The Providence Journal here.