SEYMOUR >> A signature win.
That’s what Middletown softball coach Sal Morello said after Rachel Thompson slugged a two-out, two-strike, three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to propel the No. 8 ranked Blue Dragons to a stunning come-from-behind 6-5 win over No. 4 ranked Seymour for their 11th win in a row Tuesday afternoon.
“I am most proud of how we won,” Morello said. “We came from behind twice. I love the girls’ temperament and as I said before the seventh inning, it’s the six seniors’ and Dom’s (Dominique Highsmith) time.”
Trailing 5-3, Alex Giardina (2-for-4), who opened the game with a home run over the fence in left, led the seventh with a fly ball to center. Then Kayla Pieta roped a double up the left-center field alley.
Sam Pizzonia singled up the middle but Morello held Pieta, whose run meant nothing, at third. Kelsey White struck out and Thompson fell behind 0-2. She evened the count at 2-2, then slugged the no-doubt homer over the left-center field fence.
“All I was thinking when I hit it was just to run home,” Thompson said. “Afterwards I just thought about how the team came together today and how we fought so hard to win. I’ve never hit a home run with such pressure. It was a big win.”
Pizzonia retired the side on three pitches in the home seventh, each pitch producing harmless fly balls.
“No, Sam didn’t have her best stuff,” Morello said. “But she stuck with it and pitched out of some jams. Then she threw just three pitches in the seventh when we needed it.”
Until Thompson’s blast, there was much that frustrated Morello.
Pizzonia allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in every inning except the seventh. More than that, Middletown (17-1) left runner after runner in scoring position. The Dragons left a runner on second with one out in the first, another on second with one out in the second and left runners on first and second with one out in the third.
Then MHS left a runner on third with one out in the fifth and another runner on second with one out in the sixth.
But thanks to Thompson — and the leadoff home run by Giardina and a two-run blast by Highsmith (3-for-3) in the fourth that wiped out a 3-1 Seymour lead — all of those frustrations are footnotes.
“Actually all of the bad stuff is a recipe for defeat,” Morello said. “We also allowed two walks and a hit batter to score. As I told the girls, that gives us things to work on in practice.”
Giardina’s leadoff home run stood up until the third when two walks were followed by a three-run dinger by Beca Findley — her 100th career hit — that gave the defending Class M state champion Wildcats a 3-1 lead.
Highsmith immediately answered with a high fly ball home run down the left field line that tied the game in the fourth.
Seymour (17-2) came right back and took a 5-3 lead on Shari Minalga’s bases-loaded, two-run double in the fourth. The runner at first tried to score, but was cut down on a relay from left-fielder Janelle Franklin to Highsmith to Thompson.
It didn’t appear to be a big play at the time, but it ended up being one.
Pizzonia, who gave up eight hits and struck out two, got the win. Molly Adamo, who relieved starter Jenna Geffert to start the fifth, took the loss.
It was only the second time Middletown has ever played Seymour, which has been to 17 state title games and won 10. The only other time the two teams played was in the 1992 Class M state title game won by Middletown 4-3.
MIDDLETOWN 6, SEYMOUR 5
Middletown 100 200 3 — 6 9 0
Seymour 003 200 0 — 5 8 1
Samantha Pizzonia and Rachel Thompson; Jenna Geffert, Molly Adamo(5) and Kolby Sirowich.
WP: Samantha Pizzonia. LP: Molly Adamo (5-2). 2B: (Mid) Pieta, Highsmith(2); (SE) Minalga, Kellogg. Hr: Rachel Thompson, Dominique Highsmith, Alexandria Giardina (MID); Beca Findley (SE); RBI: Thompson (3), Highsmith (2), Giardina (MID); Findley (3), Shari Minalga (2) (SE);
Records: M 17-1; S 17-2.
Rachel Thompson hit 2-out 3-run homer in the 7th to win it. Dominique Highsmith 2 doubles and a 2 run home run. Alexandria Giaardina homered to lead off the game.
Beca Findley hit a 3 run home run for her 100th hit.