BERLIN — On Saturday afternoon at Community Field in Berlin the No. 1 seeded Mountaineer softball team played No. 8 Monadnock coming from behind to win 6-1, in the second round of Division 3 Softball Action.
The Huskies scored their lone run on three hits in the first inning (also their only hits) with a lead-off single, followed by an out, then a double, leaving runners at second and third, with their next hitter “squibbling” the ball to third, with the throw coming from McKenna Balderrama to first just a tad late, with the runner scoring from third. Sam McCann settled down to retire the next two batters on called third strikes
There was anticipation in the bottom half that Berlin would at least get that run back and maybe more, when Kaylee Peare does what she does best, leading off with a bunt single, followed by a beautifully placed sacrifice bunt off the bat of Jill Hallee, sending Peare to second.
Peare got hung up between second and third and was promptly picked off. McCann struck out to end the inning.
Second inning action saw McCann on her game, with two called third strikes and one swinging.
Libby Picard walked in the bottom of that inning and was stranded, when Balderrama hit a ball to short center that the shortstop made a nice running catch to close out that inning, with the Huskies still up 1-0.
An infield groundout and two swinging strikeouts made it a 1-2-3 inning for the visitors in the top half of inning 3.
Berlin finally look liked themselves when, with one out, Dallis Lacasse had an infield single, followed by a bunt single by Peare, Lacasse to third.
Here Hallee also bunted but the throw and tag to the plate was late; at least that is what all of us umpires in the stands thought.
The plate umpire, however, called Lacasse out.
We were thinking he might had thought it was a force play. After an appeal, the ruling was changed, that run counted, and Berlin High School finally got on the board to tie things up.
Up stepped McCann and she, with great punctuality and accuracy, singled to left to score Peare with the go-ahead (2-1) run and what proved to be the game-winning hit. Remember when that was a regular and key statistic in softball and baseball?
Monadnock could not solve McCann as they had an infield out and two swinging K’s in inning 4. Berlin didn’t do much either as they had two swinging strikeouts, a single by Arianna Smith, and a called third strike to end the that inning.
The fifth was yet another quiet one for the Huskies as they hit a grounder to Peare on the first base side which she made a nice play on it to record out No. 1. A hard ground ball resulted in an error at third base, but no harm was done as an unassisted put-out by Picard at first and a Vien to Picard ground ball ended things quickly.
Berlin needed to put something together to give them a bit of a cushion in a tight, one-run game and the bottom half of that fifth inning gave all local fans a bit of a relief. Peare, the perennial bunter surprised all with a blast to deep left center that was caught on the warning track for out number one. McCann stepped up to the plate and drove one to right center field that was not caught on the track but went over the fence to give Berlin a two-run lead, at 3-1.
Vien followed with a single and then Ally Theriault also hit one to deep left that was caught to end the inning.
Monadnock opened the sixth with another ground ball to Peare at second, who made another nice play for out No. 1. A base on ball followed, but McCann stopped things there with two more strikeouts.
Picard opened up the sixth with a single, (with Grace Bradley pinch-running for her).
She stole second and had to remain there on a pop fly single to shallow center by Smith, three bunts in a row by Lacasse, Peare and Halle (fielder’s choice) scored two and a sacrifice fly by McCann plated the final and fourth run of that inning. Vien took one off the helmet to load the bases again but a pop up to the catcher ended things with Berlin High School now up a bit more comfortably 6-1.
McCann made quick work of the top of the seventh and final inning, by striking out her 13th batter (swinging), reacting quicker than the rest of us could have, and nabbing a line shot right back at her for the second out and ended it with a Picard to Peare infield groundout. and advance to the semi-final round of Division III softball against No. 4 Campbell tomorrow under the lights at 7 p.m., on Plymouth State University’s Chase Field.
Coach Rollie Poirier was, “very proud of the Berlin High girls, especially how they came back, against a tough pitcher, and from being down early to a good team, one who was on a 10-game winning streak. They were a bit nervous to start out, and it showed, especially in that first inning and the first time around the batting order, as we swung at a lot of high strikes. We stuck with it and came out on top-a good and satisfying win.”
With this win, Berlin advanced to the semi-final round of Division 3 and will play No. 4 Campbell, on Wednesday at Chase Field on the Plymouth State University Campus 7 p.m.
Campbell had a 13-3 regular season record, followed by two tournament wins, the first being an 8-0 win over Winnisquam and then a 6-4 win over Bishop Brady this past Saturday.
Campbell and Berlin do not play each other in the regular season and have very few common opponents due to being in a different scheduling “cluster.” In the bottom half of the Division III bracket, there were two upsets, with No. 7 Hopkinton squeaking by No. 2 Mascenic and No. 6 Belmont doing the same to No. 3 White Mountain Regional, both by identical 2-1 scores.