Sometimes winning doesn’t always look pretty, and it didn’t on Tuesday for St. John Vianney.
Allentown scored twice in the first inning, but the Lancers chipped away with a couple of timely hits, took advantage of a few miscues and rallied for a 4-2 victory in the Monmouth County Tournament Red Division semifinals.
“You can’t be perfect all the time, I guess,” said winning pitcher Ashley Ventura, who struck out four and walked none while scattering eight hits. “Things happen, but you’ve got to go with the flow and make your adjustments.”
After Chelsea Turner hit an RBI single and Abby Stroud whacked an RBI double in the top of the first to give Allentown (18-5) a 2-0 lead, Vianney bounced back in the bottom of the first, scoring once when Helena Coppola singled with one out and pinch-runner Demi Rivera crossed the plate following two consecutive errors.
Allentown led 2-1 until the bottom of the fourth, when Gianna Mavica started an SJV rally with a one-out infield single and Jessica Carlucci walked. Michelle King then slugged a ball to right-center field, just beyond the reach of center fielder Dominique Galipo, and as Megan Masi, running for Mavica, started for home the throw from the cutoff went to third in an effort to get Carlucci. The ball sailed out of play, allowing Carlucci to take home on the dead ball and King to end up on third.
“At first, I thought she caught it, but then I saw it bounce off the fence and I just kept running,” King said. “In that situation, I just did what I know to do, and that’s to take the outside pitch and hit it the other way.”
Marlena Bevilacqua bunted the next pitch, but the Redbirds caught Victoria Mahoney, running for King, off third base while Bevliacqua raced to second. Jackie Gallagher then hit a seeing-eye single up the middle that brought Bevilacqua home for a two-run lead.
From there, Ventura kept the Redbirds at bay, giving up a couple of harmless singles in the fifth, setting the side down in order in the sixth and putting away three straight batters after a leadoff single by Jane Minar in the seventh.
The Lancers (19-0) will square off against Shore Conference Class A Central foe Manasquan in Sunday’s MCT Red Division championship.
“We know a lot about Manasquan but we have to go into that game as if it’s going to be a tough game,” Ventura said. “We’re not going to overlook them because we beat them twice. They’re going to come out strong, and so we have to come out strong as well.”
King said being undefeated drives the Lancers.
“It feels good to still be undefeated,” she said. “We don’t want to lose. We want to have a great season and do what needs to be done to win every game. It’s motivation for us, to play our best every day and keep it going.”