DARTMOUTH, Mass. - For the second day in a row, Apponequet got the better of Bishop Stang in a match-up of league champions and Division 2 rivals, but Wednesday’s game was very different from the first meeting, according to Lakers coach Bob Huckabee.
“We played yesterday -- a battle of two heavyweights here in Southeastern Mass. -- and it was a softball game with bunting and running and everything,” he said about Tuesday’s 3-1 win. “Today, it was like round two of a heavyweight fight and everyone came out swinging for the knockout.”
On Wednesday in Dartmouth, the Lakers (16-2) overcame a four-run deficit after the first inning and stormed back to win 9-7 in a slugfest to sweep the season series behind a three-RBI day from Jill Miller and four strikeouts in a complete game from pitcher Sarah Eugenio.
“[It’s] a very satisfying win for us; these are those kind of statement games,” Huckabee said. “Down 4-0 early in the game and [Sarah’s] throwing well but they’re just dropping in and dropping in. It’s not like we were playing that bad -- they just kept dropping hits in.”
After a pop-up to begin the bottom of the first, the next six Spartans (15-4) would reach base. Nicole Vachon (1-for-2, RBI) would draw a walk and Hannah Carvalho followed with a single. Madison Machado loaded the bases with another hit then Miranda Ferreira got Stang on the board with a two-run double. Allie Thomas and Courtney Carroll each knocked in runs with singles, before Eugenio got out of the inning.
Bishop Stang coach Dan Sylvia said, “We started out and took advantage of a couple mistakes that they made and put four runs up on the board, which was the perfect start after the loss that we had yesterday.”
The lead would not last long, as the Lakers responded with four runs in the top of the second. Singles by Alee Wright, who picked up the win on Tuesday, and Eugenio got the inning started and both moved up on a groundout. An error on a grounder by Mackenzie Gomes would bring both runners around to score and cut the lead in half.
Lexi Valentin singled Gomes to third and stole second and leadoff hitter Kylie Barroso (3-for-4) picked up her second hit in as many innings to bring home both runners and tie the game.
“I was proud of the way that we answered,” said Huckabee. “We got down 4-0 and came right back and scored four so it was a whole new game. Then [Sarah] settled in and relaxed a little bit. I told her that this was one of the best games I’ve seen her pitch.”
The game would stay tied until the top of the fourth. With two outs, Barroso singled and then went first to third on a base hit by freshman Grace Boehler. Miller followed with a double to center that just bounced over the glove of the diving Carroll to score both runners. Jess DuBois singled to score Miller and make it 7-4.
Stang got one back in the bottom of the inning, but the Lakers tacked on two runs in the fifth. Eugenio walked and Gomes hit a grounder to short but the throw to second to get the lead runner ended up in right field. Valentin singled to get one run home and, after the bases were loaded, Miller would get a painful RBI when she was hit by a pitch to bring home the ninth run.
“The advantage they had too was they saw my pitcher two days in a row,” Sylvia said. “Hannah’s our ace and every time she goes out there we expect her to do the job. Unfortunately, we made some more uncharacteristic errors and mental mistakes…we have to do a better job of that.”
Huckabee said, “[Carvalho] threw a complete game yesterday against us, so we knew that she would get tired if we waited around a little bit longer and she left a couple pitches up that she normally doesn’t…and we put some good swings on them and hit the ball hard.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Lindsey Florent led-off with a triple to right center and would score when Vachon smacked a grounder through the right side. However, Valentin charged the ball and fired to first to get Vachon for the first out of the inning.
“I just pulled her in a couple steps…and we get the out,” said Huckabee. “That changed the whole game because he gets a run but we’re taking outs off the board and now he can’t come up and bunt, bunt and he can’t give away any outs.”
Stang would get one more in the bottom of the seventh on an RBI single by Meaghan Shurtleff, but Eugenio got a grounder to short to end the game.
Despite the defeat, Sylvia, whose team won the South sectional as the No. 13 seed last year, saw the two games against Apponequet as good buildup to another run in the tournament.
He said, “This becomes a learning experience for the girls. Seedings mean nothing; we showed that last year -- it’s how you’re playing when you enter the tournament. “
Stang wraps up its season on Thursday against Old Rochester, while Apponequet will face Dartmouth in the first round of the Peter Looney Grand Slam Tournament (with the potential to play No. 1 Silver Lake in the championship game).