GRAY—The Patriots built a lead over the visiting Warriors on Thursday afternoon, April 20, inching to 5-2 through the midgame. They relinquished it all – and more – in the top of the seventh, however. Happily, some keen contact by Gabriele Sernyk and Jordan Grant allowed both Sernyk and Alison Martell to score in G-NG’s last ups, securing a 7-6, season-opener victory for the team.
“This game is a battle of hits and errors,” said G-NG head coach Amanda Harmon. “Today, we had it on both sides: errors on us, errors with them, and then we came back and produced those hits and had it going.”
Anya Chase put Wells out front in the early going: Chase, the Warriors’ leadoff hitter, blasted a solo homer on a full count to open the game. G-NG answered in the bottom of the first, Martell singling, then reaching second on a steal, third on a passed ball and home on a Brindley single.
The Patriots maintained the momentum through the next several innings, outpacing the Warriors. Alexa Thayer added one for the team in the third, belting a standing double to the leftfield fence, moving to third on a passed ball and scoring on a Madison Pelletier double – another deep shot, this one to center.
Then, in the fifth, Chelsea Davis, Sernyk and Martell all polished the diamond: Davis and Sernyk both singled – both ultimately scored on an error by Chase, now on the mound for Wells – while Martell reached base on a Warriors error at third and eventually found her way home again. 5-1.
Chase grabbed Wells’s second run in the top of the fifth, but the Warriors really found a groove in the top of the seventh: Nine-batter Savannah Grover struck out swinging to begin the stretch, but then Chase walked and Olivia Clay reached on a late fielder’s choice attempt at second.
Chase scored soon enough, ratcheting the tally to 5-3. Sam Bogue next grounded out to short, but Karissa Kenyon, who followed Bogue to the plate, reached base on another walk. Olivia Durfee, who followed Kenyon, also reached: Durfee grounded to short, but Patriot Lydia Espling bobbled the ball just a bit and couldn’t quite get the throw to first in time. Clay raced home on the same error, bringing Wells within one at 5-4.
Abby Hanson stepped up to bat. Hanson wasted little time taking a clutch swing: She clubbed a bouncy grounder past third on her second pitch, rounding both Kenyon and Durfee to home again and grabbing the Warriors first lead since the first inning. 6-5 now.
The obvious question was whether Harmon would leave Martell, her starting pitcher, in the circle. It’s not uncommon for coaches to act on signs of fatigue in their hurlers, but nor is it uncommon for them to demonstrate faith in them.
Harmon opted for the latter: “We have the confidence in her, and our catcher; they work well together. And just because she’s not on in one inning, doesn’t mean she’s not going to come back and be on in the next. She does a good job keeping herself in control, as well as keeping the game in check with the rest of her players. She keeps her composure.” Thayer catches for the Patriots.
Finally, Sophia Zurlo grounded out – Wells’s third out of the inning; G-NG had escaped the sticky patch, but not without falling behind. The Patriots now had one last chance to regain the advantage, earn the win, start the season off right. But would they?
“Being indoors and practicing, it’s tough to practice everything,” Harmon said, asked if her girls deflated after the Warriors’ charge. “We’ve been trying to keep [the girls’] focus and intensity up, no matter what just happened on defense. We have to come back and win that inning. We’ve been waiting for this day, waiting for Wells, and the girls wanted it. They wanted to come home with the win…I don’t think they got deflated, because they have the confidence—it’s there, it’s growing every day.”
“The girls came saying, ‘We still have our ups; we still have more to give,’” Harmon said. “They gave it their all until the end. It was nice to see.”
Sernyk singled into right to begin the bottom of the seventh, the ball dropping between two Warriors whose communication in the moment left something to desired. Thayer next went down swinging, but Chase walked Martell. A couple passed balls, a Sernyk steal (from second to third) and a Brindley bunt later, Martell had scored for 6-6 and G-NG, as a unit, had loaded the bases. Grant wrapped up the 7-6, comeback triumph with a second-pitch grounder whack into center, bringing home Martell.
“She was due,” Harmon said of Jordan’s timely hit. “We’ve been trying to move a couple things around on her, first couple innings, either try to have her get a bunt down or just get on base. Today, she just didn’t have a choice, but to connect on a drive, and she came through for us.”
Thayer finished the day 1-4 with a double and one run. Martell went 1-4 with a single, three runs and a steal. She also pitched a complete game, hashing eight Ks in the process. Pelletier went 1-4 with a double; Brindley 2-4 with two singles; Grant 1-4 with a single – that game-winning RBI; Davis 1-3 with a single and a run; and Sernyk 2-3 with two singles, two steals and two runs.
G-NG hosted Traip on April 23. They travel to Poland two days later and welcome Greely two days after that.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
G-NG first baseman Jordan Grant leans out for the throw as a Wells runner tags up in time.
Ali Martel hurls a pitch toward home for the Patriots versus visiting Wells.
Ali Martell scores the Patriots’ seventh run – the winning run in their comeback over Wells.
Chelsea Davis takes a cut for the Patriots in their win over Wells on Friday.
G-NG shortstop Lydia Espling unwinds into a cross-diamond throw.
G-NG catcher Alexa Thayer reaches out for an incoming pitch.
Chelsea Davis slides into home, scoring the Patriots’ third run, their first of three in the fifth inning.