TAUNTON, Mass. -- Basically Saturday’s Division 1-South semifinal softball game between No. 3 North Attleborough and No. 2 Bridgewater-Raynham came down to a matter of who would blink first.
In this case it was the Red Rocketeers as the Trojans scored an unearned run in the last of the 12th and won 4-3.
As a result, Bridgewater-Raynham (20-3) will play top-seeded King Philip at 3 p.m. Sunday, also at Taunton, for the sectional title.
“We didn’t start having the energy until that last inning and that’s when we scored,” said winning pitcher Audrey Dolloff. “We just have to keep the energy up.”
Given the length of the game, keeping the “energy up” was a challenge for both teams. But Dolloff’s pitching was a major reason why the Trojans were able to hang with the Red Rocketeers (18-5) until they broke the 3-3 tie.
Dolloff, a senior, allowed nine hits and only one earned run, replete with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Overall, she threw 113 pitches and got stronger as the game progressed.
Over the last seven innings, for example, Dolloff faced just two batters over the minimum and allowed only two balls to be hit out of the infield.
“I felt good the whole game,” Dolloff said. “But I don’t normally think about it until a game’s over. I just go and pitch.”
THE LONGER THE BETTER
B-R coach Mike Carrozza was more expansive when discussing the performance of his ace pitcher.
“I think Audrey was a little tight on the mound early in the game even though she’s been pitching for four years,” he said. “But once that girl starts progressing and as the innings go on, she just gets stronger and stronger.”
Dolloff also benefitted from North Attleborough’s swinging at pitches early in the count. And to be specific, she retired the side on nine or fewer pitches in seven innings.
“I think they had the mindset that they weren’t going to let her get her stuff later,” Carrozza said. “So they tried to go first-ball or second-ball swinging.
“Pretty much the pitches I was calling she was hitting them. She was hitting her spots. And as the game progressed she got stronger and stronger.”
In that decisive 12th inning, Emily Kurkul reached on a fielder’s choice and moved up on Juila Milardo’s sacrifice bunt.
Madi Shaw then hit a routine grounder to first base which was booted by Jackie Delbonis for an error.
Carrozza, who was coaching third base, gave Kurkul the “green light” as she rounded third and slid home ahead of Delbonis’s throw for the winning run.
HE WHO HESITATES LOSES
“To win the game, you have to make all kinds of decisions,” Carrozza said. “I had a double steal on the inning before. You have to make something happen. Their pitcher [Megan Colleran, who fanned nine in 11 2/3 innings and gave up nine hits] is a good pitcher.
“They were playing solid defense so at that point you have to make something happen. That’s what we did and we prevailed.”
North Attleborough grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on Megan Wynn’s RBI single. But B-R tied it in the bottom half when Shaw (who began play batting just over .700) went the other way and lined a home run over the left-center field fence.
The Red Rocketeers scored a pair of unearned runs in the second as a result of two B-R errors. But that 3-1 lead lasted only until the third when the Trojans tied it on Chelsea Correia’s RBI single and Dolloff’s triple.
“That was big,” Carrozza said of his team’s scoring two runs. “You have to get on the board to get a little momentum going back – especially in the finals.
“It pretty much was a good game with great play on both ends.”