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NORTH SMITHFIELD â A couple of bunts and a couple of stolen bases decided the Division II-Northâs best pitchersâ duel of the young season on Friday.
Jessica Tremblayâs safety squeeze bunt in the bottom of the third inning drove in Jamie LaFazia with the run that allowed North Smithfield sophomore Karissa Carlton to outduel Burrillville junior Cassidy Tedeschi and the host Northmen to squeak out a 1-0 victory that took 85 minutes to complete.
Carlton and Tedeschi were clearly the story of the afternoon, as both ace righthanders ended up with superb one-hitters and double digits in strikeouts.
Carlton, who struck out 14 batters in a season-opening 4-3 loss to Woonsocket three days earlier, ended up with 11 whiffs, as she struck out the side in the third and sixth innings. She also walked three batters, retired nine of the last 10 batters she faced, and allowed just two batted balls (both in the sixth inning) to reach the outfield.
Tedeschi, who had 11 âKâs in her teamâs season-opening 3-2 victory over Scituate on Tuesday, finished the game with more strikeouts (13), including the side in the first two innings, four walks, and only one batted ball out of the infield. But unlike Carlton, she couldnât pick up the stat that mattered the most -- the âWâ.
The Northmen picked up their run when LaFazia led off by reaching base on a throwing error on her bunt to the left side of the infield. Tedeschi came back to strike out the next batter, but on the first pitch to Tremblay, LaFazia stole second base.
Two pitches later, LaFazia swiped third base without a throw, and on the next pitch, Tremblay dropped a bunt in front of the mound. Tedeschi scooped it up, and as soon as she threw the ball to first, LaFazia broke for the plate and scored without a throw.
âThe first two innings, I wasnât happy with our execution,â said N.S. coach Tom Bourgeois. âBut in the third inning, from then on, our execution was good. We have to get those bunts down in critical situations. In the third, Jamie started it off with a bunt and Jess finished it with a bunt. Awesome, awesome. Thatâs what weâre looking for.â
The inning before, the Northmen had a golden opportunity to score their first run when Angela Pasquarielli led off with a walk, and with one gone, found herself on third via a delayed steal of second base and a throwing error. But Tedeschi bore down and stranded Pasquarelli on third by striking out the next two batters.
Burrillvilleâs best chance to score came in the fourth. Mikayla Fernandez led off with a walk, and after she stole second on the first pitch to the next batter, Ashley Spear, she raced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Spear. But Carlton also got out of the jam unscathed with two quick outs -- a popout to second baseman Tara Larson and a strikeout.
Both Carlton and Tedeschi also quietly carried no-hit bids into the latter part of the game before losing them. Tedeschi lost her bid with two gone in the fifth on a bunt single by LaFazia, who was across the bag before catcher Victoria Libbyâs throw to first hit her in the back, and Carltonâs no-no was gone with one out in the sixth on a line single to right by Fernandez.
The victory was also a perfect way for the Northmen to bounce back from their defeat to the Villa Novans. who overcame Carltonâs excellent game on the mound to win the game in eight innings via the international tiebreaker rule.
âIâm glad with the way the girls responded,â said Bourgeois. âThatâs what (assistant coach) Paul (Mercier) and I were looking for, and I canât be any prouder of the way they bounced back today.â
Both teams are back in action next Tuesday afternoon, with the Northmen visiting Ponaganset at 3:45 p.m. and the Broncos hosting North Providence at 3:30 p.m.