A big inning in a game can set a team on fire for the rest of the season.
Middletown South coach Tom Erbig is hoping his Eagles can use Saturday’s 6-2 victory over crosstown rival Middletown North as a confidence booster and springboard toward bigger things during the next six weeks.
“We showed up today,” he said. “This was a nice win for us and we needed it. But the question becomes whether we can do this consistently. We had a solid day and now we want this to be the way we play all the time. Hopefully, it’s a catalyst for us.”
With two down in the bottom of the fourth of a scoreless contest, the Eagles (5-3, 4-1) erupted for six runs with clutch hitting. Through the first three innings, North pitcher Riley Kernan had held them without a hit.
Ally Massa got things started when she drilled a line drive into left field, before Julia Beck was hit by a pitch and Julia Blarr walked to load the bases for Jordyn DellaValle, who also was grazed by a pitch on the inside, allowing Massa to score South’s first run.
Alex Corrigan then singled to left to bring in Beck and Blarr to make it 3-0. Winning pitcher Tiffani Lambert doubled down the right-field line to bring in DellaValle and Corrigan to make it a five-run game, before Veronica Zega finished off the rally with a hard single to left to score Nicolette Curran, a courtesy runner for Lambert.
“We did a great job in that inning to take what they gave us and make things happen,” said Lambert, who gave up six hits, struck out four and walked none. “In March, we played really well, but then we had a bit of a shaky start to the season. This will help build our confidence.”
Lambet’s confidence was boosted even more when she came out and set down the Lions (5-2, 4-1) in order during the top of the fifth, but North finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth after Kate Quinn, Payleigh Behan and Nikki Alfano each singled to make it a 6-1 contest.
South nearly added more runs when it loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Kernan worked out of the jam with a strikeout and then getting some help from Alfano, who made a leaping grab of a Grace Heller line drive.
The defensive play of the game came from Blarr at third base, who made a dive on a sharp grounder to rob Quinn Thornton of a hit and then fired to first from her knees to get the first out of the seventh.
Kernan then reached on an error and scored when Lizzie Dorsa whacked a double into the right-center gap to make it 6-2, but Maddie McMahon, on in relief of Lambert, got a strikeout and a snagged a soft liner to end the game.
Erbig said Lambert rose to the occasion Saturday.
“We talked before the game and she wanted to prove to me that she could take the ball in a game like this and get the job done,” he said. “Tiffani didn’t have a lot of strikeouts but she made big pitches when we needed outs. She got it done and this should be good for her confidence.”