PROVIDENCE â€” Minutes after Davies Tech survived a stunning 13-12, nine-inning epic over Central High at Rhode Island College on Saturday afternoon, head coach Scott Cooper sighed, then stated, â€śItâ€™s all or nothing now, Central knows it can be beaten.â€ť
In this second game of the R.I. Division III Tournament best-of-three championship series, the Patriots took advantage of 12 hits and eight Knights miscues to not only raise their overall mark to 17-2, but also force a decisive title tilt at this same diamond at 5 p.m. today.
Central, the defending champion whoâ€™s also 17-2, bashed 17 hits and also scored three runs in the back half of the seventh to knot the score at 10-10 and force extra innings.
It nevertheless allowed Davies the game-winning run in the top of the ninth. Just as it had in the eighth inning, umpires ruled that International tiebreaker regulations would be followed â€“ that is, each team would start each half-inning with a base runner at second.
With Ashley Cuccorelli aboard, Kassie Therrien bunted down the first-base line, but Central hurler Diana Torres cut down Cuccorelli sliding into third. Courtesy of the 1-6 fielderâ€™s choice, Therrien took second on a passed ball and stole third when Rosaliz Torres walked.
Freshman Madison Goodhart, the eventual winning pitcher, then ripped a ground single to center to plate Therrien. Torres had taken third and Goodhart second on the outfield throw to third, but Kaitlin Flynn grounded to short to end the rally.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Knights placed Aureli Tamarez at second, but Goodhart fanned Lady Antigua for the first out. Kim Martinez then flied out to center, and outfielder Waleska Kelly immiediately fired to second for the double play that ended the game.
Goodhart may have yielded 17 hits, but she only walked one and whiffed an amazing 13. She also helped her own cause offensively, reaching base five times on three hits and two errors, and she also scored twice.
Her batterymate, fellow freshman Madison Cooper, led the Pats with three hits, two RBI and four runs scored, while Cruz and Victoria Lopes each had two hits and a run while Cuccorelli mustered three hits and a sacrifice fly. Therrien added two hits and a pair of runs, and Caterina Martinez a trio of hits and two runs.
Central had taken a 4-1 cushion with three runs in the second, but Davies immediately answered with six in the top of the third. The Knights sliced the gap to 8-7 with three in the fourth, but the Pats rallied for two more in the fifth to snag the 10-7 advantage.
The reigning champs, however, notched a trio in the back half of the seventh to tie the game. They did so courtesy of Karina Santosâ€™ RBI double to left, and Kim Martinezâ€™ ground hit up the middle.
Davies tacked on two more in the eighth when â€“ with Goodhart at third and Cooper at second â€“ Cruz dropped down a superb bunt. She beat the throw to first, and Goodhart scored. Cooper also raced home on an ensuing throwing miscue.
The Knights again tied it up after Kaitlin Ramirez led off with a bunt fielderâ€™s choice, sending Carmona to third, and she trotted home on Kkazia Ramirezâ€™ sacrifice fly to center while Ramirez hustled to second.
She then stole third, and Hennessy Garcia plated her with a bloop single to left.
All that did was set up Daviesâ€™ ninth-inning heroics.
â€śYou know what? We had them (behind) four times, and the last time we allowed them three runs to tie it and force extras,â€ť the elder Cooper noted. â€śIâ€™m still just very excited. Weâ€™re still here. We lost to Central twice this year, and weâ€™ve beaten them twice this year. No itâ€™s just down to one.
â€śThe key to this game was not to blow a gasket,â€ť he added with a chuckle. â€śWe kept our heads about us, and the kids showed desire. They didnâ€™t rattle but answered the call. They played as a team.
â€śNow weâ€™re forced into a Game 3, and Central knows we can beat them.â€ť
Stated Cooperâ€™s assistant, Joe Handy: â€śNow the best team will win.â€ť