BETHEL – Lisbon coach Mike Fortier knew he had to force them to make the play.
Against most teams, it might have been a gamble that would pay off. Against the Western Maine Class C champions, however, it proved to be a rally killer.
Telstar cut down the tying run at the plate on an inning-ending double play and held off Lisbon in a 7-5 MVC softball game Monday.
“My thought behind it was force them to make the throw and tag, and they did,” said Fortier. “That’s what good teams do.”
Lisbon (6-2) gave unbeaten Telstar (6-0) its toughest test of the season, but when push came to shove, the Rebels weren’t going down easily.
Down 6-4 in the sixth, Lisbon loaded the bases with no outs. The Greyhounds got one run across when Vickie Osmond scored on an Emily Moore fielder’s choice. Soleil Mathieu followed with a grounder to third. Stephanie Tripp gunned down Mathieu at first, and Chelsea Cozzolino quickly fired home to catcher Liz Rosenberg, who tagged Erica Merritt at the plate.
“I just laid my leg down as hard as I could and blocked the plate,” said Rosenberg. “I just hoped she didn’t break the leg, and she didn’t. I was able to put the tag on her. It was really close. It was a nice throw by Chelsea.”
Telstar added a Jillian Kimball RBI single in the sixth to make it 7-5, but Lisbon threatened again in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs. Kimball, who pitched the first three innings, came on in relief of Jessie Farrington to face Merritt. Kimball got the strikeout to finish the game.
“Jill came in and threw strikes,” said Telstar coach Jim Lunney. “I told Liz on the last one to go low and away, and she banged it. That’s what she can do.”
Lisbon stranded 10 runners, including six in the last three innings.
“We had people on base, and that key hit just didn’t happen for us,” said Fortier. “Obviously, they have two girls that can throw very well. They got the job done on the mound and in the field. They made the plays when they needed to.”
Lisbon erased a 2-0 deficit and built a 4-2 lead in the third. Cozzolino staked the Rebels to the early lead with two RBIs in the second, but Christy McAuliffe singled in a run while Heather Parry had an RBI double and Lisbon added two more on errors.
“The momentum was a little slow at the beginning, but I think we picked it up once they put the pressure on,” said Cozzolino. “We haven’t had a lot of pressure games so far. So it was a good game for us to have.”
The bottom of the Telstar order sparked the comeback. The final four Rebel hitters combined for six runs, seven hits and four RBIs. Kayla Mills, Megan Smith and Abby Hutchins each had two hits while Cozzolino drove in three runs.
“The bottom of the order really stepped it up,” said Cozzolino. “The pressure was on. We needed to produce, and we did.”
In the fourth, Cozzolino singled in a run and Hutchins scored on an error. A Kimball infield hit scored Cozzolino to put Telstar ahead for good. Hutchins singled in another run in the fifth for the 6-4 lead.