JAY — Faced with choices, Jay’s players made the proper calls in the field.
Three times, with the bases loaded, no outs and two runs already home, Livermore Falls hitters appeared at the plate. Three times, they hit the ball hard on the ground.
And three times, a Jay infielder scooped up the ball and fired home, cutting the lead runner down at the plate to avoid a bigger inning.
Ultimately, those decisions decided the game.
After holding the Andies to those two runs in the third inning to preserve a tie, the Tigers, led by a pair of hits from Alexis Blodgett, retook the lead in the bottom of the inning and held on to earn a 4-3 victory over their next door neighbors.
“It never matters where anyone is in the standings, who’s playing or what the situation is, it’s always a tough game against them. They always come to play,” Jay coach Robin Roberts said.
The Andies were undermanned Friday. After playing a game in the sweltering heat earlier in the week, starting pitcher Kaitlyn Townshend was feeling ill and couldn’t face the Tigers in this matchup.
“We brought in our right fielder, Lorayanna Tracy, a freshman,” Livermore Falls coach Larry Dustin said. “We thought, if she can give us four innings, we’ll be happy. She did that, and she did very well.”
Tracy allowed four runs — three earned — on three hits and four walks, while the defense behind her committed just one error. She baffled some of the Jay hitters because her velocity is much lower than some of the pitching Jay has seen this season.
“A slow pitcher, you have to adjust, move up in the box,” Blodgett said. “I was just trying to get the bat on the ball.”
“It’s tough for us to see slower pitching,” Roberts said. “I think the girls would rather see someone throw harder.”
Blodgett didn’t mind, one way or another. After a prolonged mid-season slump, Blodgett had eight hits in three games this week, including a pair of RBI singles Friday. The first put Jay on top by two in the first, and her second plated Alexi Deering with the team’s third run.
Brittany DiPompo walked against Tracy to lead off the game. Deering followed with a bunt single, and Ashley Dorey moved them both along with a sacrifice. DiPompo scurried home on a wild pitch, and Deering crossed on Blodgett’s first hit.
In the third, Livermore Falls evened things up after the first five batters of the inning reached. Amanda Robbins reached after Jay pitcher Alexii Smith hit her in the ankle. The next four Andies’ hitters — Sam Greenwood, Marissa Welch, Jen Freeman and Kathrynn Lake — all singled. Two runs scored, and the bases remained loaded.
Smith then induced three consecutive ground balls, and all three times infielders fired to catcher Ashlee Quirrion to prevent any more runs.
“That was a big momentum boost, to get out of that inning,” Roberts said.
Jay answered with two more in the bottom of the third. Blodgett drove in Deering, and then Dorey scored when Netta Shank’s fly ball to center bounced off the fielder’s glove and to the turf.
The Andies got one back in the sixth when Adrienne Alley reached after being hit by a pitch. She advanced to second on a wild pitch, and to third on a ground ball to second. She made it home on an error at third base as Jay tried to double her off the bag.
In the seventh, Greenwood led off with a sharp grounder to first that Blodgett couldn’t handle.
But Smith bore down. She struck out Welch, induced a fielder’s choice ground-out and another roller to third to end the game.
“A lot of their hitters were standing off the plate inside,” Smith said. “I knew if I worked the outside part of the plate, I’d be able to get outs.”
The win was important for the Tigers, who will now wait until the Heal Points settle to see whether they finished in fourth, fifth or sixth place in Western Class C. The Andies, meanwhile, will have to wait for their playoff fate to be decided until Tuesday, when Monmouth faces St. Dom’s.