TORRINGTON >> No. 10 Berlin earned its second straight trip to the Class L softball semifinals with a come-from-behind 4-2 win over No. 2 Torrington Friday afternoon at Torrington High School.
Torrington’s Sara Heath and Brittany Young drove in runs for the Raiders in the second inning.
Berlin’s Amanda Patterson topped them with a three-run double two innings later.
Winning pitcher Makayla Harris put the game on ice in the top of the seventh, driving in the final Redcoat run.
“I want to give our (CCC) conference an incredible vote of thanks,” said Berlin coach Jason Pires. “They prepared us. We have four teams who were in and out of the top 10. We face good teams every day.”
The Redcoats, 18-5, flirted with the state’s top 10 themselves before running into three straight losses in one mid-season stretch.
“We had a bad week, but we regrouped and came back strong,” said Pires.
Practice in regrouping against tough opponents paid off Friday.
Harris (2-for-4), who heads for Division III Molloy College (Rockville Centre, New York) this fall, led off with a single against her counterpart, Sydney Matzko (7 innings, 3 earned runs, 6 hits, 13 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 hit batter), heading for Division I North Carolina.
Torrington left fielder Alexa Potter made a great grab on a soft liner, doubling Harris off first.
The match was on.
Harris (7 innings, 2 earned runs, 5 hits, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks) evened the defense chops in the bottom of the first, walking Torrington leadoff batter Brittany Anderson, then spearing a pop-up bunt and doubling Anderson at first.
Matzko found her groove in the second, striking out the side.
Torrington bats found theirs in the bottom of the inning.
Alexis Tyrrell started with a single.
Sarah Heath smashed an RBI triple to left.
Brittany Young dragged a bunt single down the first base line for another RBI.
“We thought we had it in the bag,” said Torrington coach Marianne Musselman.
“We cleared our heads and we were back in the game,” said Berlin’s Harris.
Matzko blazed her sixth strikeout in a row for the second out in the top of the third, then lost Brittany Sullivan on a full count.
Sullivan stole second and third. Torrington’s Potter, in left field, stopped her with another great catch to end the inning.
Now Berlin had its own defensive groove.
“Nobody knows us because we don’t have that lights-out player,” said Coach Pires. “We’re the definition of ‘team.’”
In the third, the team stopped Torrington with a nice catch by second-baseman Sullivan, pop-up to third baseman Jaclyn Arute and strikeout by Harris, then went to work on Matzko in the fourth.
Megan Wicander beat out a bunt; Courtney Silvia slapped a hit over Torrington’s drawn-in infield. Matzko got her eighth strikeout, then hit Kaitie Guild, loading the bases.
Patterson, a senior captain along with Harris, took an 0-2 count, then lined a double through the left field gap.
Three runs scored; the game tipped over.
“I was just looking to help my team,” said Patterson, who ends her softball career this year, heading to UConn. “It’s what a good team does in times of adversity.”
Matzko regrouped with a pair of inning-ending strikeouts.
Now the pressure lived with Torrington.
Matzko and her defense plowed through six straight batters in the fifth and sixth.
Torrington batters strained to re-start their fire. The Redcoats answered every time.
Berlin catcher Patterson made a diving catch for a pop-up in the fifth.
Shortstop Vanessa Reimer went deep in the hole, robbing Marissa Morris of a hit in the sixth.
Pinch hitter Ali Dubois came through with a hit. Then centerfielder Silvia camped under a fly ball, ending the inning.
“I told the team we needed one more run,” said Harris.
In the top of the seventh, she supplied it.
Sullivan reached on an error, then came all the way around on a single by Harris.
With one last chance, Torrington’s Potter, a senior, reached base on a one-out error, went to second on a sacrifice, then ended her season there with a final Red Raider pop-out to third.
“It’s been a great year; everyone has grown,” said Matzko, who led her teammates (22-2) to one more rung than they reached a year ago.
Berlin goes back to the semis, facing No. 19 Sacred Heart Academy Monday at West Haven, 7 p.m.
No. 10 Berlin 4, No. 2 Torrington 2
At Torrington High School
Berlin 000 300 1—4 6 2
Torrington 020 000 0—2 5 1
WP: Makayla Harris. LP: Sydney Matzko. 3B: T—Sara Heath. 2B: B—Amanda Patterson.
Records: Berlin 18-5; Torrington 22-2.