LYNNFIELD — It’s on to the sectional semifinal for the Lynnfield softball team.
Tuesday afternoon, the No. 13 Pioneers won a wild one by staging a dramatic late-inning rally to defeat No. 21 Ipswich, 12-11, in the Division 3 North quarterfinal.
With the win, the Pioneers punched their ticket to Thursday’s (5:30) semifinal against defending North champion and top-seeded Austin Prep at Martin Field in Lowell.
The Pioneers had beaten Ipswich 12-0 in the regular season but this one was a real barn-burner. The Pioneers made six errors and blew a 6-0 lead after two innings. Trailing 11-8 going into the bottom of the sixth, Lynnfield rallied with four runs to steal the win.
Pitcher Reilly Ganter (two earned runs, eight hits, three strikeouts, two walks) slammed the door shut in the top of the seventh. She sandwiched a pair of strikeouts around a 1-out walk, after which third baseman Jillian Babine came up with the defensive play of the game, snaring a bullet of a line drive that had extra bases written all over it to clinch the dramatic win.
“The big thing obviously is not to make the kind of mistakes we did today to give all those runs to Ipswich, but the good thing was that the kids didn’t quit after falling behind,” said Lynnfield coach Peter Marinelli. “It’s not what you draw up as a coach, but the kids chipped away at it and we finally made the plays in those last couple of innings that we were not making earlier in the game.”
Lynnfield jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first, the big hits being back-to-back RBI triples from Chloe Shapleigh and Ganter (3-for-4, three RBI, double), followed by a RBI single from Babine.
The Pioneers sent nine batters to the plate in the second to double the lead to 6-0. But they left a ton on the table. With three runs in, they had the bases loaded with no outs, only to fail to be shut down.
That was all Ipswich needed to get back in the game. In the top of the third, the Tigers sent 12 batters to the plate and took advantage of some sloppy fielding, as well as several mental mistakes, to take an 8-6 lead.
It was more of the same in the fourth as four straight infield errors opened the door for Ispwich to bump the lead to 10-6. All of the runs were unearned.
Ipswich returned the favor in the bottom of the fifth. Taylor Tringali reached all the way to third when her leadoff bunt was thrown into right field. Jenna Brodigan then alertly took off for first on a dropped third strike with Tringali scoring from third to make it a 10-7 game. Ipswich got that run back in the top of the fifth to set the stage for a dramatic bottom half of the inning.
Brodigan began the rally with an infield hit and took second on a wide throw to first. Pinch-hitter Jacqueline Carbone ripped a single up the middle to move Brodigan to third. Breanna Serabian (2-for-4, RBI, runs runs, two triples) brought Brodigan home with a sacrifice fly to center. Allie Wing (3-for-4, double) kept the line moving with a single, then Shapleigh (3-for-4, four RBI) plated Carbone with a single to center to pull the Pioneers to within one, 11-10. With two outs, Babine (3-for-5, two RBI) came up clutch, drilling a single to center to plate the tying and game-winning runs.
While nine Pioneers got into the hit column, Marinelli said Wing’s contribution batting in the No. 2 slot, and Carbone’s pinch hit in the No. 9 slot, were key.
“That was the best hitting Allie has had all year, she was really driving the ball,” Marinelli said. “And Jacqueline coming in cold off the bench and delivering that base hit was big. That hit was about a clutch as it goes considering the circumstances. She really made me look good.”
Marinelli said the Pioneers will have to play a lot better if they hope to be a giant killer and slay the Cougars.
“We are going to have to play perfect defense and play mistake-free softball,” he said. “We cannot do what we did with physical errors, mental errors and throwing the ball around the way we did. We cannot compound mistakes like we did. If we continue to do that against a good team like Austin Prep, it’s going to be a long day.”.