Sunday May 20, 2012
PITTSFIELD -- Sarah Rayner wasn't about to waste a second chance in a week to sweep Wahconah and grab a stranglehold on Berkshire County's North Division.
"I was thinking that we were going to get out of it because our team came ready today," Rayner said. "When we play together, we just play well."
Rayner was best when the Generals needed her the most on Saturday, stranding nine Warriors in a 4-1 victory at Pittsfield High School. The win, in a game that was rescheduled after three rain-soaked innings on Monday, gives the Generals (15-2, 10-1 North) a one-game lead in the North.
"We knew we had to beat them," said Pittsfield senior Kelsey Manns. "We're both close to winning the North and we both wanted it bad. We knew we had to come out strong or else they would, too."
Wahconah (13-6, 10-3) wasn't close to strong at the start. Junior Gabby Lavinio des cribed her team as lackadaisical during the first two innings when the Generals jumped to a 4-0 lead. After the first two batters reached, Manns brought Paige Lovellette home with a sacrifice fly. A Sam Boyle RBI single and a later Wahconah error brought two more home.
The Warriors struggled to cope again in the second when another RBI from Manns stretched the lead to four.
"That's a Wahconah team I haven't seen all year," said Warriors coach Dustin Belcher. "We were not focused and ready to play when we showed up. It showed. We made a couple of crucial errors and we gave them opportunities. They're too good a team to give those kind of opportunities to."
Belcher's team did settle down eventually. Pitcher Becca Grunow allowed just three hits over the final four innings to give Wahconah a chance.
The Warriors simply didn't capitalize on that opportunity. Wahconah left two runners on in four different innings, including the seventh. Twice, in the fifth and seventh innings, Belcher had the meat of his lineup at the plate with only one out and two on. Rayner found a way out of the jam both times.
"One pitch at a time and staying aggressive and believing what she can do," said Generals coach Greg Marchbanks. "That's [Ray ner's] approach. When she does that, she's very good. Sometimes I have to go out there and remind her of that stuff."
Whatever words March banks had for Rayner, it was enough to hold a lead that was often one hit away from being precarious.
"[Stranding runners] definitely hurts a little," Lavinio said. "But it gave us the confidence we could hit her and could, at any time, pull runs across. It just never ended up happening."
Pittsfield 4, Wahconah 1
Wahconah 000 010 0 -- 1 4 1
Pittsfield 310 000 0 -- 4 10 2
Becca Grunow and Bree Herforth; Sarah Rayner and Aoife Nester. W -- Rayner. L -- Nester. 2B -- W 1 (Rachel Brennan).