Exactly one year later, Crusaders break Raiders hearts again, 3-2 in 12 innings. Cross on to NVL Tournament finals.
NAUGATUCK: This will not go down as one of the greatest Torrington/Holy Cross softball games, not by a long shot.
In a game that featured seven errors (five by the Crusaders, two by the Raiders) and numerous missed opportunities, Holy Cross was the one left standing after the game’s final error plated the winning run in the bottom of the twelve inning, moving the number two seed into the Naugatuck Valley League Tournament title game by a 3-2 final.
Cross gets rival Seymour on Wednesday in the finals after the Wildcats took care of St Paul by a 5-0 final.
It seemed at times to be a game that would finally put the Raiders over the hump by getting a win over Crusader ace Sarah Lawton, who struggled with her control most of the regulation portion of the game when Torrington took a 1-0, then 2-0 lead going into the bottom of the seventh before the wheels came off the Raiders bus.
Coming into the semi-finals, the big question was whether this would be the day the Raiders got revenge for one of their three losses this year. They had lost 1-0 to Cross back in April in Waterbury and for a while, it looked like this might be the day.
The Crusaders were in a giving mood on Tuesday, especially at third base where they committed errors in the fourth, fifth, sixth and twelve innings.
Two of those frames, the fourth and the sixth, produced the Torrington runs.
Nina Julian walked to lead off the fourth and moved all the way to third on a throwing error by Crusaders third baseman, Emma Gargano on a slow grounder by Carissa Carbone that sailed over the first baseman’s head.
Torrington pitcher Ali DuBois was up next and lifted a shallow fly to left field that Julian tried to score on from third but was thrown out at the plate by leftfielder, Lizzy Diorio for an apparent rally killing double play, if not for the heads up baserunning of Carbone.
After the play at the plate completed the double play, the Crusaders celebrated a little too much and when Lawton turned her back on the runner on third, Carbone came sprinting home with the game’s first run.
“That was all CC,” head coach Maryanne Mussleman said. “She saw an opening and just took off. That’s a great play by a senior.”
In the sixth, it was Carbone again who would get herself across the plate, reaching on the third error at third base in three innings by the Crusaders.
DuBois would walk, putting runners on first and second for one of the Raiders hottest hitters, Lauren Jamieson who once again delivered in the clutch with a sharp single to center for a 2-0 lead.
The Jamieson hit was the first by the Raiders off Lawton but DuBois was also dealing, allowing just four hits over the game’s first six innings, escaping a first and second, one out jam in the bottom of the third but was getting great help from her defense, especially Jamieson who got the lead runner at second on force plays in the third and fourth innings.
DuBois helped herself by getting the lead runner on a comebacker in the fifth that helped keep the Crusaders off the board.
All was well in Raider land as they were three outs away from a date with the finals on Wednesday night, but putting the Crusaders away has not been easy for Torrington over the past few seasons.
Recall back to last year to the day when Cross won this same game on a walk-off home run by Aubrey DeFoe in the bottom of the seventh in a 4-3 win after the Raiders had an early 3-0 lead.
It’s never easy against the Crusaders and it wasn’t again 365 days later.
Sophomore Valerie Nobrega led off the frame and hit the first ball her team had hit to the outfield all day but Julian got a bad jump on the ball in right and it hit off her glove for a two-base error.
DuBois got the next out on a short fly to left freshman Jenna Mowad singled to center, putting runners on first and third.
On a play that might have gotten overlooked, Mowad took second without a throw, putting two runners in scoring position with just one out.
With DeFoe at the plate in a scarily similar situation as a year ago, a passed ball allowed Nobrega to score the Crusaders first run, moving Mowad to third.
DeFoe would pop out to Alexis Tyrrell at second for the second out of the frame, leaving DuBois and the Raiders an out away from a finals appearance.
Senior Gabby Goldman, the number nine hitter, had other ideas though as she dropped an RBI single down the right field line and this one was all tied up.
DuBois would get out of the inning and on they went as the Falcons and Wildcats waited.
Torrington may have gotten a run in the top of the ninth but a missed sign led to catcher Alyssa Dowd being thrown out at second on a steal attempt after getting hit by a pitch leading off the frame.
When Tyrrell launched a double to the base of the wall in left center, Torrington was left to wonder what might have been.
DuBois and Lawton matched zero’s over the next four innings with DuBois escaping a first and third, two out Cross chance in the bottom of the eleventh by getting Goldman to pop out to Tyrrell for the third out.
Torrington put Tyrrell on in the top half of the twelfth on the fifth Crusader error of the night but Tyrrell was called out for leaving too early with Julian at the plate and the rally never developed.
DuBois got the first two outs of the bottom of the twelfth but Lawton sliced a double down the right field line that rolled all the way to the wall.
Alexandra Lombardo was up next and hit what should have been an inning ending grounder to Carbone at third but the senior looked to third for a force that wasn’t there before throwing wild over first, allowing Lawton to score the winning run.
A strange way to end a strange game and for the second straight trip around the sun, the Crusaders had broken the Raiders hearts.