BRISTOL - With Bristol Eastern pitcher Erin Girard in the midst of a four-hit shutout, batterymate Paige McLaughlin stepped into the batters box with the bases loaded and the Lancers holding a 1-0 lead against Bristol Central in the top of the seventh inning.
McLaughlin delivered a big hit, scoring Taylor Keegan and Lyzah Corliss to give Bristol Eastern insurance runs, leading to a 3-0 win at the Rams home field Monday afternoon.
“[Paige] is Miss Consistency for us,” Redman said. “She started off the year slow and then once she started hitting there’s been no turning back. She’s been definitely a consistent contributor game in and game out, the big spot doesn’t deter her at all. She doesn’t crumble in the big spot, she definitely thrives off that.”
Bristol Central’s starting pitcher Peyton Greger faced a similar situation in the first matchup of the season between the two and gave up four runs.
Limiting the Lancers to a pair was a sign of progress for the first-year starting pitcher.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal to her or our defense anymore when we have the bases loaded or we’re in some sort of jam because we’ve been in those situations before,” Bristol Central coach Monica Hayes said. “Now we’re in them less and less because we’re executing more efficiently defensively and she’s pitching better and better every single day. It doesn’t bother them anymore.”
The pitching matchup between Girard and Greger is one that seems to be just getting started. Girard and Greger have faced each other in both games this year and Girard has won both games.
Still, going head-to-head has been fun for the two sophomores.
“I actually like that matchup,” Girard said. “She’s a very good pitcher. She’s doing extremely well just starting pitching this year after being shortstop last year.”
“I love the competition,” Greger said. “It’s awesome being home rivals. We’ve known each other since we were little.”
Girard struck out nine batters while scattering just four hits in an impressive showing.
“I’ve been a little more confident than usual lately,” Girard. “I feel like I’ve been doing better with hitting spots. I knew I had to bring my A-game today against a competitive team.”
Greger also went the distance. She allowed two earned runs on 10 hits and struck out four.
Offensively, Bristol Eastern’s Taylor Keegan (2-for-2) and Girard (2-for-3) had multi-hit games. Lyzah Corliss, Jordan Fitzsimons, McLaughlin, Riley Giblin, Lauren Aparo and Alyssa Hackling (RBI) added the other hits.
On the other side, Greger had the biggest hit in the game, a two-out triple in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Morgan Greger couldn’t drive in Greger, which would have tied the game up 1-1.
Jenna Ptak (2-for-3) and [Peyton] Greger (2-for-3) had the Rams four hits. The other hit by Greger came on an off speed pitch from Girard and she sat back on hit adjusting to rip a single up the middle.
Both teams had strong defensive performances, highlighted by a strong play in right field by Bristol Central’s Sierra Reed on a hard hit ball by Jenna Winters. The Rams had the only error in the game, coming on a sacrifice bunt by Corliss that Greger couldn’t get off the mound.
Bristol Central’s last at-bat of the game by Kayla St. Onge was impressive. St. Onge stood strong against Girard, making the Lancers ace work hard for the final out of the game. St. Onge fouled off pitch after pitch before Girard got her out to end the game.
“We’ve battled all year long with trying to get young kids in the game in tough situations so whether she gets a hit or not in that situation it was a fantastic at bat,” Hayes said. “She showed resilience and that’s what we want.”
Hayes was pleased with the effort despite the loss and Bristol Central concludes its regular season with a 9-11 record.
“Today we had great energy offensively and defensively to the kids on the bench,” Hayes said. “You could see it. They were executing well today, especially defensively. I was really proud of the effort, and we’ll see what happens [in the postseason].”
Bristol Eastern finishes its regular season 14-4.
Both teams qualified for the postseason, the Rams in Class L and the Lancers in Class LL.
The first round opponents for each will be determined this Friday when the brackets are released.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org