PROVIDENCE --- First came the four-run uprising in the seventh inning that led to a 4-3 win over top-seeded Lincoln High on Saturday night. Then came the seventh-inning run that helped cop a 1-0 victory over Cumberland High in Monday afternoon’s winners’ bracket semifinals.
On Wednesday night, ninth-seeded Mount St. Charles Academy struck again late in its winners’ bracket final against third-seeded Cranston West High, and as a result, the Mounties will be playing for the Division I championship.
Down by a 6-3 score after six innings of play, MSC rallied for three runs with two gone in the top of the seventh inning and then scored twice in the eighth to eke out a thrilling 8-7 victory over the Falcons at Rhode Island College.
“What a game!” exclaimed MSC coach Cliff Matthews. “I’m sure that most people who come out to see a winners’ bracket final don’t expect to see an 8-7 game. I certainly didn’t expect to see that, especially with the games that have been going on in the playoffs -- the 1-0s, the 3-2s, and the 4-3s.”
The Mounties (13-9) will try to capture their program’s first state crown and become the lowest seed in the history of the Division I playoffs to win a title on Saturday at 3 p.m. when they clash with the winner of Friday’s 7:30 p.m.
‘survival’ game between Cumberland High and the Falcons.
If the Mounties lose that contest, they will get a second chance at the title on Sunday in a winner-take-all game with their opponent.
In the decisive eighth, with the international tiebreaker rule in effect and MSC marching Emily Hendricks out to second base to start the inning, Falcons ace pitcher Kelly McDonough picked up a quick out with a popout to shallow left field, but then the Mounties went to work.
Pinch hitter Emily DiCecco, who was called into service when cleanup hitter and third baseman Aria DiMeo got hurt on the last play of the seventh inning, delivered a slap infield single (her first varsity hit) past McDonough to place runners on the corners.
Olivia Hendricks then socked a ground single to left to score her twin sister, send DiCecco to second, and give the Mounties their first lead of the night, and Nicole Silva followed with a line double that found the gap in right-center field, and that brought in DiCecco and put runners in scoring position.
McDonough then got out of the inning by getting the next batter to strike out and Alyssa Lanzi to sky out to the warning track in center, but by that point, the damage was already done.
In the Falcons’ half of the eighth, a base hit by McDonough put runners at the corners with no outs, and a sacrifice fly by Alicia Hersey cut MSC’s lead to a run.
But Olivia Hendricks, who pitched the final five innings to pick up the win on the mound, allowed only a base hit by Melissa Martino the rest of the way to seal the ‘W’ and put her team one victory away from championship glory.
The Falcons took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second, when with two outs, McDonough doubled into the gap in left-center, Hersey legged out an infield hit, and Martino plated McDonough with a base hit down the right-field line.
In the third, they bumped their lead to 4-0 on a three-run homer by Rousseau, which came after Denise Archetto doubled to deep left and Izzy MarcAurele ripped a line single to center.
Rousseau turned on a 2-1 offering by starting pitcher Kristen Rodrigues and wrapped it around the left-field foul pole, sending the Falcons and their vocal fans behind the plate into a frenzy.
The Mounties then cut their deficit to a run in the fourth by collecting four of their hits off McDonough. A single to center by Lanzi, double to deep left by Nicole Grinsell, and infield hit by Emily Hendricks set the stage for a bases-clearing double by Briana Castro that one-hopped the wall in left.
But the Falcons added a pair of insurance runs in the home half of the fifth, as Archetto, who led off the inning with a long triple to center, ended up scoring on a wild pitch, and Rousseau knocked in a run with a bloop single to center.
The Mounties, meanwhile, were continuing the hit the ball with authority off McDonough, but while they collected a season-high 16 hits in the game, they also 12 runners on base, 10 of them in the first six innings.
“We had a little difficulty solving their pitching all day long,” said Matthews. “We were leading them in hits, and we knew that if we kept working at it and working at it, we would solve her eventually. The girls wouldn’t give up.”
And they proved that in the seventh.
First, DiMeo led off by hammering a 2-0 fastball from McDonough over the fence in left for a home run. Olivia Hendricks then followed with a walk, and Silva followed with a ground single to left.
McDonough then got the next two batters to pop out to second, but the inning was kept alive when Grinsell laced a grounder to shortstop that was thrown away for an error and allowed DiCecco (the courtesy runner for Hendricks) to speed home with MSC’s fifth run.
Taylor Messier then drove home courtesy runner Erin Rouleau with the tying run by socking a hard-hit grounder up the middle, but McDonough got out of the jam by getting Emily Hendricks to pop out in the infield.
The Falcons tried to answer back in the bottom of the seventh, when with two outs, Rousseau ripped a long double deep into the gap in right-center, but was cut down trying to stretch it into a triple on a perfect 9-6-5 relay.
On the play at third, DiMeo injured her right arm and right thigh on the tag at third when Rousseau slid feet-first into her. The contest was delayed for 10 minutes as DiMeo was tended to by coaches and a trainer and helped off the field.
Mount St. Charles 000 300 3--8-16-0
Cranston West 013 020 0--7-12-0
Kristen Rodrigues, Olivia Hendricks (4) and Alyssa Lanzi; Kelly McDonough and Ashleigh Rousseau. HR -- Aria DiMeo (MSC). Ashleigh Rousseau (CW).