Playing its sixth game in six days, the Rome Free Academy softball team knew its latest opponent, Baldwinsville, was going to be a scrappy team to handle.
The Lady Black Knights appeared to be on their way to passing that test as they took an early lead and made the plays they needed behind senior starting pitcher Hannah Wasco.
But it took just two plays to erase all of their hard work as the Bees found the openings they were looking for and ended up edging Rome, 2-1, at Kost Field.
Centerfielder Maggie D’Eredita reached base three times and scored both runs for the Bees on two heads-up plays, and left fielder Paige Altman knocked her in for the game-winning score in the bottom of the seventh inning for the visitors’ fourth win of the season.
"We always know that when we come to Rome that it’s going to be a tough game," said Baldwinsville coach Tracey Roman. "It’s always a battle to the end."
The Central New York Counties League crossover contest on Thursday proved to be no different.
With Wasco on the hill in a pitchers’ duel with Baldwinsville hurler Lizi Campbell shutting down the Baldwinsville bats through four innings, the Lady Knights broke through first when Mary Resnach crushed an RBI double in the bottom of the fourth for a 1-0 RFA lead.
But all it took was for smart, quality softball to change RFA’s fortunes.
Starting at the top of the fifth, D’Eredita reached first base when shortstop Alex Kimmel slightly overthrew to the bag and cause first baseman Katrina Piemonte to step off it.
After a single by Dani Sayler to bring her to third, Keeanna Wolcik attempted a suicide squeeze play while the runners took off. She, however, missed Wasco’s pitch on the bunt attempt and as she did, catcher Kaysie Gregory tried to throw out Sayler on the steal to second, but as she did, Wolcik raced to home plate as the tying run and made it in safely before the throw back to Gregory.
It didn’t take until the top of the seventh before the second misplay came into effect with D’Eredita, once again, involved.
She led off the frame with a single to get things started and set up a sacrifice attempt by Sayler, who softly connected for a dribbler down the first base line.
As she was thrown out, D’Eredita rounded second while charging to third and made it in safely as third baseman Melissa Gilbert was unable to come up with it cleanly after the pickoff throw.
"Maggie is very aggressive on the bases and as a team we try to pride ourself on that," said Roman.
"We know we are not the strongest hitting team, so we have to find a way to manufacture runs. You win some games that way and today it worked in our favor."
Wasco looked as though she might get out of the inning when Wolcik flew out to right field and Resnach made a hard throw to the plate to keep D’Eredita from tagging at third and going home.
But it was Altman who dashed those hopes on a two-out blooper to short over the head and outstretched glove of Kimmel to score D’Eredita as the go-ahead run.
"I got up there and I was nervous because I knew we needed one more run to hopefully win the game," Altman said. "I just got in the box and I smiled and I hit it. I was surprised that it just got over (Kimmel), but I was happy when it did."
Wasco finished the game allowing one earned run on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks while taking the loss.
RFA coach Jerry Tabolt said Wasco certainly threw well enough to win, but the defense has got make plays behind her.
"Defensively, we did some good things behind her," he said. "We had the scouting report and we knew they were going to run like crazy. They’ve done it for years. We just had to be ready, and they got us a couple of times. We made all the plays except two and they were the two that hurt us."
Along with Resnach’s RBI double, Courtney Tasco singled and scored a run, while Wasco and Gilbert each had a hit and Gregory drew two walks to get into scoring position twice for Rome, but Campbell got away from her threat on both tries.
Campbell claimed the win while allowing the four hits and striking out three.
RFA’s record goes to 5-9 overall and they will play their next game on Tuesday at Oswego at 5 p.m.