HAMDEN — Both Mercy’s Alexa Boone and Sacred Heart Academy’s Amanda Savinelli were well aware of how the other was doing in the pitching circle as they opposed each other Monday afternoon.
In a game that went nine innings, Boone and Savinelli combined to allow just five hits, while striking out a combined 27 batters and walking just one. Neither allowed an earned run.
As is usually the case in a battle of solid pitchers, the contest between the Tigers and Sharks came down to who capitalized on their opportunities. That battle went to the Tigers.
Scoring unearned runs in the first and ninth innings, the Tigers defeated Sacred Heart Academy 2-1 in nine innings in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest at Sacred Heart Academy.
“It is a sign of two good teams,” Mercy coach Tony Calcagni said after his team won its fifth game in a row to improve to 7-3. “My hat is off to them (SHA). They do a great job. They are a well-coached team. I would not want to play them in the (state) tournament.”
All three runs in the contest were unearned and it was Mercy capitalizing in the ninth inning after Sacred Heart Academy failed to do so in the seventh and eighth.
Abbie Goff reached on an error to open the ninth and moved to third when Nicole Saraceno’s sacrifice attempt was misplayed. Saraceno was thrown out at second, but freshman Amelia Andruskiewicz followed with a single to left to score flex-runner Jasmine Mendez for a 2-1 Mercy lead.
“Usually after games, I point to one or two kids who stood out,” Calcagni said. “Today, I thought everyone did something. We told Abbie (Goff) to just put the ball in play and things happen. Our freshman at second base (Andruskiewicz) made a couple of nice plays. It was a team effort. It was softball as I know it.”
The Sharks had an opportunity to even the contest in the bottom of the ninth as Savinelli reached on an error to lead off and stole second. With one out, Boone struck out Lauren Fitzgerald and Savinelli was caught trying to steal third to end the game.
“My pitcher pitched a great game and their pitcher pitched a great game,” Sacred Heart coach Al Ramelli said after his team dropped its third straight to fall to 6-5. “We tried to take advantage of stealing and playing some small ball. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.”
The failure to score in the ninth continued a trend for the Sharks as they had opportunities in the final three innings but could not convert.
Fitzgerald singled and stole second with one out in the seventh, but Boone struck out the final two batters of the inning to end the threat. The hit by Fitzgerald was Sacred Heart’s first of the game.
“This is a big win for us,” Alexa Boone said after allowing two hits and striking out 15. “It was a big team win. We were able to capitalize on their mistakes. We made some key plays out there. We were in it to win it today. We were all in. Our bench was key for us.”
The Sharks then had another golden opportunity in the eighth when Isabella Saracco reached on an infield single with two outs and stole both second and third, but Boone again escaped by striking out Anne Plunkett to end the inning.
“I am very proud of my kids,” Calcagni said. “Our pitcher (Boone) is an All-State pitcher. She is very good and does a nice job for us.”
Mercy took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Boone reached on a two-out error and Ashley DeLuca scored Delaney Boone with a single to left.
As Savinelli kept the Tigers off the scoreboard, Sacred Heart was able to even the contest in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, freshman Sydney Grund walked, stole second and third, and scored on a Mercy error while stealing third.
Savinelli allowed three hits and struck out 12 in the loss.
“I am so proud of her,” Ramelli said of Savinelli. “She pitched very well. We just could not capitalize on the bases.”
Players of the Game
Alexa Boone (Mercy) and Amanda Savinelli (Sacred Heart). The two pitchers were on their game throughout, combining for 18 innings of work, allowing five hits and no earned runs. The pair combined to strike out 27 and walk just one in a well-pitched contest.
“Usually when we win games, it is our hitting which gets it done and hurts teams. We faced a tough pitcher today. She (Savinelli) was tough. She put the ball where she wanted.” — Mercy pitcher Alexa Boone
Mercy 2, Sacred Heart Academy 1 (9)
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Batteries: Mercy—Alexa Boone (4-1) and Sophia Engels; Sacred Heart Academy—Amanda Savinelli (5-4) and Adrianna Ramos, Sydney Grund (3)
Team records: Mercy (5-2-0); Sacred Heart Academy (5-4-0)