by Andrew Garda
Good teams find ways to hang on and win close games, regardless of what adversity is thrown their way.
During their Tuesday afternoon 10-9 win over the Hoboken Redwings, the Mounties had to overcome low temperatures, a late arriving opponent, a delayed start time, a fifth inning surge by the Redwings and a shorthanded seventh inning.
“I let two kids go home, when we were up 9-1” head coach Mike Goldstein explained after the game. “Syd Masur and Izzy Garland. And I ended up substituting myself out of the game almost because I was playing so loose and easy because we had such a big lead. I was trying to get kids into the game, but I wasn’t focused on who I was putting them in for. So I couldn’t re-enter certain kids because I had taken them out, put them back in, taken them out again. So it caught up with us at the end, where I ended up having to play one man short.”
Goldstein didn’t discover that on his own, and wasn’t aware it had happened until the helpful Hoboken coaching staff pointed it out. Suddenly, he was faced with a significant problem.
If Masur or Garland had still been around in the seventh inning, Goldstein would have had options. Since he had decided to let them go, he was stuck with a shortened bench, which resulted in the Mounties having just eight players in the field for the final inning. In the end, Goldstein decided he would play with a limited outfield, putting just two players deep and hoping the Redwings didn’t send a hit into the gap.
Luckily, Sofie Fachin — with the help of a great throw by catcher Rael Crews to foil a stolen base attempt — retired the side in the final inning and the Mounties slipped away with the win rendering the roster mistake no more than a footnote.
Offensively, the Mounties scored the bulk of their runs in the first two innings.
They got off to a hot start in the bottom of the first when Fachin, Francesca Testa and Aliyah Taylor all walked to load the bases. Then Aliyah Taylor drove Fachin in with a sacrifice, and Testa scored on an errant throw on the same play. Then Charlotte Carr drove in another run with a sacrifice before the inning ended.
The third inning saw Grace Chelius score on an error, Fachin send Masur home on a base hit before being driven in herself by a mammoth triple from Testa. Testa was then driven home by a Taylor single, and Taylor ended up stealing home plate a short time later.
All told by the time the third inning rolled around, the Mounties were up 8-1 and MHS would add a run in the fourth inning to make it 9-1.
All the while, outside of a shaky first inning, Masur had been cruising.
That changed in the fifth, when the Redwings seemed to figure her out, sending a dozen batters to the plate and scoring eight runs. Masur wasn’t helped by a few miscues by fielders, and she seemed to struggle locating the strike zone for a little as well.
Suddenly, the Mounties were in a dogfight and while he didn’t recognize it at the time, Goldstein’s bench was too thin.
While in the end, the substitutions would cause MHS some drama, in the moment, they worked out for the team as they added an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 10-8.
“Ally Goodsil had a big hit for us,” Goldstein said. “Elizabeth Haefeli had a big bunt for us which brought runners across.”
Haefeli first laid down a key bunt to move a runner into scoring position, which allowed fellow frosh Goodsil to drive in the run.
Fachin came in to pitch the sixth inning, and while she allowed one run, she struck out two and limited Hoboken to a walk and a sacrifice hit. And of course, she closed out the seventh with relative ease despite missing an outfielder.
“I’m glad we won, we needed this win,” Goldstein said. “I almost cost us the game, and I’m glad I didn’t. And we live for another day.”
While Goldstein said the team had played some sloppy ball later in the game, with some poor throws and bad decisions, he lauded his players for gutting it out. Along with the play of Goodsil, Fachin and Haefeli, he pointed to several strong innings of work from Masur, an excellent day at short stop from the strong-armed Testa and the key throw from Crews to down a runner at second to end the game.
Still, Goldstein feels the Mounties need to be more focused and everyone — including himself — can’t take a lead for granted.
“We’re a better team than they are, but once you let a team like that back in, it gets a little scary. Especially when you’re playing eight on nine,” he said.