BRISTOL, Conn. --- After watching his All-Star team nearly mercy-rule the Mount Abraham All-Stars of New Haven, Vt. in an easy victory on Sunday, Cumberland manager Chris Bodington knew that his girls had probably seen their last lopsided win of the Eastern Regional tournament.
On deck was a pool play contest against a team that took Cumberland extra innings a year ago in the tourney, two-time Maine state champ Scarborough, and the next game was against a tougher opponent, the George J. Hummel All-Stars of Seymour, Conn.
Cumberland got the first of those squads out of the way on Tuesday at sun-splashed Breen Field on the Bart Giamatti Complex, but it wasn’t as easy as the majority of its victories this summer, as the three-time state champs held on for a 4-1 victory over Scarborough.
Ahead by a 4-0 score after five innings of play, Cumberland had to sweat out a rally in the top of the sixth inning that saw Scarborough score an unearned run and bring the tying run to the plate with one out.
But Cumberland pitcher Jocelyn Bodington, who has been lights out on the mound throughout the tourney, struck out the next two batters to wrap up another superb outing and help her team improve its overall mark to 12-0.
More importantly, the win gives Cumberland a 3-0 record in New England pool play and clinches one of the top two seeds in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
“This was one of the best teams we’ve played,” the Cumberland manager said of Scarborough. “We knew this game was going to come right down to the end. This is a big win, and it means a lot to clinch that top-two seed.”
Whether or not Cumberland can sew up N.E.’s top seed will be determined tonight in its 8 p.m. pool play finale against New England’s other 3-0 team, Seymour, Conn.
Like Cumberland, Seymour boasts two mercy-rule victories, outscoring its opponents by a 30-4 margin, and Seymour’s game against Scarborough was also a low-scoring affair, with the Connecticut team recording a 2-0 win.
“Connecticut’s very deep,” said the Cumberland manager. “They have deep pitching, so were looking for another great game. At this point, all the teams that we’re going to face are the top teams in the tournament.”
Bodington received a splendid performance from his daughter, Jocelyn, who for the second time in the tourney, racked up double digits in strikeouts and carried a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, only to watch it slip away.
With one out in the sixth, Kaitlyn Verreault broke up the bid with a hard-hit ground single up the middle that went through Bodington’s legs and quickly made its way into center field – only the second batted ball by Scarborough that reached the outfield grass.
“That was too bad,” the Cumberland manager said of the missed no-hit bid, “but at that point, I just wanted to win the game.”
Verreault then dashed to second when the throw back into the infield sailed was high and went to the backstop, and after she took third on a wild pitch, she scored when the next batter, Sarah Berube, reached on an infield error.
When the next batter, Hunter Greenleaf, drew a walk to put runners on first and second, the Scarborough bench began to show some signs of life. But that’s when Bodington doused Scarborough’s comeback hopes with her 12th and 13th strikeouts of the afternoon.
While Bodington was busy racking up the Ks (she now has 37 in the tourney in just 15 innings of work), she struggled a bit with her control, walking six batters, including three in the top of the second inning.
But Scarborough was unable to capitalize on those free passes. One runner got thrown out trying to steal second base by catcher Renae Lacroix, and the other two were stranded on first and second.
Cumberland then broke out to a 2-0 lead in the home half of that inning by taking advantage of three Scarborough errors and some daring baserunning.
The first miscue came on a leadoff line single to left field by Hailey Ballou that was misplayed and allowed Ballou to advance an extra base. After she hustled to third on a wild pitch, Ballou tagged up and scored with ease on a sacrifice fly to right by Chloe Kessler.
After the next batter, Kaitlyn D’Abrosca, picked up two bases on an error on a routine grounder to third, Mackenzie Vallely legged out an infield hit. The speedy D’Abrosca raced for the plate and was able to score when the catcher dropped the throw home.
Cumberland extended its lead in the third, when with one gone, Bodington laced a line single to right (her second of the day) and came around to score on a double by Alex Pina that she belted into the gap in right-center.
The locals’ final run came in the fourth on a two-out bloop single to center by Lacroix that plated Dana Jackvony, who reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second on a walk to Abby Goncalves.
Offensively, Cumberland finished the contest with just six hits off Verreault, who was celebrating her 13th birthday. She struck out four and walked two.
“I thought this was the best game we’ve played throughout the tournament,” added the Cumberland manager. “Defensively, we played well, and while we didn’t have many hits, we got them when we needed them.”
Follow Eric Benevides on Twitter @EricBen24.