— Jim Fuller (@NHRJimFuller) June 8, 2017
STRATFORD >> Scoring opportunities certainly came early in often as perennial postseason rivals Seymour and St. Joseph stepped onto DeLuca Field on Wednesday night eyeing a spot in Saturday’s Class M title game.
Senior second baseman Shari Minalga made certain that fourth-seeded Seymour capitalized on their chances while the Class M semifinal was one of missed opportunities for No. 17 seed St. Joseph.
Minalga, who drove in the tying run in a quarterfinal win over Granby, drove in key run in the fifth inning with a double and added a two-run single in the sixth inning in the Wildcats’ 6-3 victory.
“I am so overwhelmed with excitement,” said Minalga, who pushed her team-leading RBI total to 44. “I try to lead the team the best I can and at the plate, if there are runners on, I have to be productive.”
If there is one statistic that best sums up the night’s festivities it would have to be at bats with runners in scoring position. Seymour was an impressive 4 for 8 with five of its six runs coming in those situations.
Meanwhile, St. Joseph finished 1 for 16.
“You get a couple of key hits and it is a different ball game,” St. Joseph coach Jeff Babineau said.
The seventh inning was the only time St. Joseph didn’t have runners on base as the Cadets left multiple runners on in the first, second and sixth innings.
The run of failing to come through with runners in scoring position was snapped on Melissa Bike’s infield single with two outs in the sixth inning to pull St. Joseph within a run. Catcher Jovanna Hillman, who already had a home run and double, received the old fashioned unintentional, intentional walk to load the bases for Kayla Giacobbe. Molly Adamo, who came on in relief in the third inning, got Giacobbe to pop up to end the threat.
Both teams used two pitchers and with 16 hits and nine walks between them, there were plenty of chances for players with previous postseason success to come up to the plate with runners in scoring position.
“It was nerve wracking honestly,” Minalga said. “It is all about timing in the game, you have to have hit after hit and come up clutch.”
Seymour struck first a Becca Johnson led off with a walk and scored with the aid of a pair of passed balls.
Chelsea Avila added an RBI single to give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead in the first inning.
St. Joseph (16-10) got a run back in the top of the second inning when Allie Petronchak, the No. 9 hitter, drew a bases-loaded walk.
In the third inning, St. Joseph catcher Jovanna Hillman, who is from Seymour, tied the game with a solo home run to center field. Giacobbe followed with a double leading to a pitching change for the Wildcats with Adamo coming in for Jenna Geffert.
St. Joseph led two runners on in the first inning and after plating their first run, had the bases loaded with nobody out in the second inning but a pair of strikeouts by Geffert enabled her to prevent further damage.
Johnson reached base three times and had her 47th stolen base of the season while Minalga was the only player with more than one hit for Seymour (25-2).
Hutchinson and Hillman had two hits each for St. Joseph.
Seymour, eyeing its eighth state title since 2000, will face a North Branford team making its first state championship appearance on Saturday at 4 p.m. at West Haven High School.
SEYMOUR 6, ST. JOSEPH 3
St. Joseph 011 001 0 — 3 9 1
Seymour 200 022 X — 6 7 0
Payton Doiron, Cat Connell (5) and Jovanna Hillman; Jenna Geffert, Molly Adamo (3) and Kolby Sirowich.
WP: Molly Adamo (7-2). LP: Payton Doiron (). 2B: (SJ) Giacobbe, Hllman, Petronchak; (SE) Findley, Minalga. Hr: Jovanna Hillman (SJ)RBI: Hillman, Bike, Petronchak (SJ); Molly Adamo (3), Chelsea Avila, Beca Findley (SE);
Team records: St. Joseph 16-10; Seymour 25-2.