LITCHFIELD — You’ve just gotta believe.
That’s how No. 4 Wamogo saw it in the Warriors’ come-from behind 7-6 win over No. 5 Hale Ray in the Class S quarterfinals Friday afternoon at Wamogo High School.
Playing catch-up to the Noises for much of the game, Wamogo faced a 6-4 deficit after Hale Ray broke out of a 4-4 tie in the top of the final inning.
With one out in the Warriors’ last chance to return to the semifinals for the second year in a row, sophomore Sam Sylvester lined a single to left field.
“Whenever we get on base, we have each other’s backs,” said Sylvester.
Caitlyn Maliszewski drove Sylvester to second with another single to left.
Up next, Savannah Wheeler, with two big hits early in the game, grounded to third into what seemed a game-ending double play or at least the second out.
Instead, the throw to first sailed high, scoring Sylvester, leaving runners on second and third.
Mackenzie Harnett came up to bat with two RBI already on a double and single — along with a tournament history that might have given some kids the chills.
“Last year, in the semifinals, we were down 2-1 to (eventual state champion) Holy Cross with two outs in the seventh inning and a runner on third,” said Wamogo coach Dave Sylvester. “I didn’t even think about trying a squeeze bunt for the tie. I gave Mackenzie the green light. It didn’t work out, but it made her ready for this.”
“I knew I had to come up for the team,” said Harnett. “You just have to play your part.”
Harnett slammed a walk-off two-run double to the center field fence.
“I’m proud of our team,” said Noise coach Sue Miner. “We made too many mistakes, but (pitcher Hannah Lemke) was a warrior. She threw every pitch in every game this year, sometimes when she was hurt.”
Lemke and Wamogo pitcher Sylvester dueled for two innings. Then Hale Ray broke through for the game’s first run on a single by Isabelle Hajek and the first of two doubles by Skyler Rapuano.
Callie Burke led off the fourth inning with another Hale Ray double, then got home for a 2-0 lead on a pair of sacrifices by Nicole Trapp and Morgan Fuhrmann.
Wamogo got on the board with hits by Wheeler and Harnett in the bottom of the inning, but the Noises pushed their lead to 4-1 in the fifth on hits by Hajek, Rapuano’s second double and Erin Molkenthin.
In what became a hitters’ day, the Warriors tied it in the bottom of the inning on four hits, a walk and an RBI ground-out.
Locked 4-4, the game moved to a heart-stopping seventh.
Hale Ray struck first.
Wamogo center fielder Mckenzie Hoyt made a circus catch for the first out. Sylvester recorded her seventh strikeout for the second.
Then Rapuano drew a full-count walk and Lemke and Molkenthin followed with back-to-back RBI doubles for a two-run lead.
The Warriors never stopped believing.
Wamogo, in its fourth straight quarterfinal appearance under Coach Sylvester, advances to its second straight semifinal, next Monday or Tuesday against No. 1 Stafford at a neutral site to be announced.
WAMOGO 7, HALE RAY 6
HALE RAY 001 120 2 — 6 9 2
WAMOGO 000 130 3 — 7 11 1
WP: Sam Sylvester. LP: Hannah Lemke. 2B: HR — Skyler Rapuano 2; Lemke; Erin Molkenthin; Callie Burke. W — Savannah Wheeler; Mackenzie Harnett 2.
Records: Hale Ray 18-5, Wamogo 19-4.