By Phil Terrigno (Photo cred: Seth Harrison/The Journal News)
Eastchester sits atop the Class A list, an enormous nod to the Eagles’ success and ability to manufacture wins in Section 1’s most competitve class.
Exhibit A: The Eagles (15-1) were held hitless by Tappan Zee’s (11-4) Paulina Gutkin until it counted most, in the bottom of the eighth, when No. 9 batter Danielle Rella lined the game-winning hit to left.
“This game (was) a small fraction of what (Class A) is,” Eastchester coach Chris Walpole said. “You have Tappan Zee, you have Brewster, you have Ursuline and you have us. On any given day, if you get a hot pitcher or you hit a few line drives, you never know who’s going to win.”
Jen Tomany led off the bottom of the eighth with a walk before being substituted by pinch runner Alana Calviello, who advanced to second on Stefanie Fiorello’s sacrifice bunt before Rella came to bat.
“When I’m more relaxed, I think about what I have to do,” Rella said. “When I’m in pressure, I’m like, ‘Alright, I have to get (a hit).’ So I just swing for everything.”
Calviello was called out by the home-plate umpire after sliding home, when it appeared Dutchies catcher Kelly Connolly tagged her. But the field umpire interjected after trailing the play and called Calviello safe.
“(Calviello) was called out by the home plate umpire and was overruled by another umpire without being asked whether or not he saw something,” Kousoulas said. “After (Connolly caught the ball), the runner came in, tag, she fell down and the ball came out.”
The Siena-bound Cacciola retired the Dutchies in order in the third through sixth innings, finishing with 13 strikeouts.
“I knew that they were going to be a good team from the start,” Cacciola said. “I had to make sure my pitches were working and if I missed, not down the middle.”
Gutkin, a junior who has garnered Ivy league interest, had five strikeouts and had her team’s only two hits in the first six frames.
“Gutkin has gotten better every year that she’s pitched and now she’s a threat with her bat,” Walpole said.
In a pivotal opportunity for Tappan Zee, Nicole Speigelberg lined a ball to center with one out in the seventh but was tagged out trying to stretch it into a double.