Waterford topples Stonington in the seventh on a phantom grand slam
Waterford — What was a nice, quiet, one-run matchup late Friday morning turned into a game with a lot of interesting questions surrounding it by early Friday afternoon.
One. Why was Waterford High School sophomore Taylor Lee, who won the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, not in the starting lineup in the first place? Two. Why was Lee's one-out, bases-loaded blast over the left field fence to end things not actually considered a grand slam?
Lee hit an apparent game-winning home run. The runner on first base, however, stopped running as soon as the winning run crossed the plate, so the homer was negated because Lee passed her teammate on the base paths.
Home plate umpire Rick Durham signified that two of the would-be four runs counted, giving Waterford a 4-2 victory over Stonington in a game between the two previously unbeaten teams in the Eastern Connecticut Conference's Division II.
Stonington led 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh.
"Honestly, I was really scared," said Lee, who entered the game in the sixth inning as the third Waterford left fielder of the day. "But my teammates were hyping me up and saying that I had the confidence to do this."
Walker told Lee to be ready for the first pitch.
"'Listen,'" Walker said he told her. "'She's going to try to get ahead. If it's there, bang it.' ... Taylor has been struggling at the plate. She's been struggling with the swing and in her own head. We actually spent about a half an hour before the game before any of the team members arrived. We went in (to the cage at the high school's field house) and just broke down her swing and just got her back to some basic stuff."
Ashlee Hancock started in left field but, but left with an injury. Regan Mazzulli, next in left, then became ill.
Lee batted in the sixth and flew out to right field.
In the seventh, No. 9 hitter Chloe McCue singled inside the right field line and Cassidy Susi put down a sacrifice bunt to push her to third. Ciana Chiappone walked and Rachel Miller tied the game with an RBI double to left-center field, putting runners on second and third. Stonington walked cleanup hitter Madison Nott intentionally to load the bases. Lee delivered.
That made Waterford 5-2 overall, 5-0 in ECC Division II. The Lancers are the division's defending champion, beating Stonington 12-11 in extra innings in their final meeting last season to capture the title. Stonington is 6-2, 3-1.
Miller was the winning pitcher, allowing just four hits, none past the fourth inning.
Stonington took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on an RBI single by freshman Tori LoPresto, who drove in both runs for the Bears and played a competitive right field, tracking down a ball in the gap and holding a runner at third base with the threat of her arm.
The Bears made it 2-0 in the fourth on a leadoff double by Erin Craig, who took third on a ground out by Maggie Constantine and scored on a grounder by LoPresto.
But Stonington made a baserunning error in the third and again in the fifth, resulting in a double play, and could not capitalize on their baserunners. Waterford, meanwhile, made it 2-1 with a run in the fourth on a single by Hancock, a stolen base, a single by Gina McKittrick and an RBI single off the handle of the bat by Riley Mazzella.
Waterford stranded two runners in the sixth before coming through in the seventh.
"We knew we had to come together to make it work," Lee said of the rivalry game against Stonington. "We knew we could win it."
"We need some runs," Stonington coach Ann-Marie Houle said. "(Waterford is) a good hitting team. I thought we played big. I thought we played as a team. I was worried about defense and I thought our defense was fine. ... We're not hitting. You have to put up more than two runs against a team like Waterford."
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