NAUGATUCK — Alexa Marucci is best known as Naugatuck’s ace and one of the top pitchers in the Naugatuck Valley League. Monday night, her biggest contribution came at the plate.
Marucci drilled a one-out single to left-center field in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Sarah Chandler with the game-winning run and lead the Greyhounds to a 4-3 win over Holy Cross.
“I was just trying to get a hit,” Marucci said. “I wanted to get it somewhere in the outfield to get the run in.”
Marucci’s walk-off single came on the heels of Chandler’s two-run double off the left field wall, which scored Gretchen Hale and Gillian Fortier to tie the game. The inning started with a single by Hale and a one-out intentional walk to Fortier.
“Sarah’s going to have a chance to finally put one over the fence one day,” Naugatuck coach Kevin Wesche said. “But she left it up to Alexa, and she took care of it.”
The Crusaders took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the ‘Hounds gained one back in the bottom of the second. Erica Bohuski led off with a walk and later scored on Hale’s groundout back to the circle to make it a 2-1 game.
“It was very important to right the few errors we had,” Wesche said of scrapping together that first run. “We were lackadaisical at the plate early on.”
Cross added an insurance run in the top of the sixth on a wild pitch, one of few mistakes Marucci made in the game. She tossed a five-hitter with five strikeouts while also contributing two hits.
“I was just thinking that they had their inning and I just needed to focus, throw strikes, and sit them down,” Marucci said.
Naugatuck’s three-run rally in the seventh helped the Greyhounds (10-5) to another season of double-digit victories, although Wesche wished the explosion had come earlier.
“They really came alive,” Wesche said. “We need that kind of effort the whole game, not just after 6 1/3 innings.”
The ‘Hounds are on pace to make the NVL tournament. Naugatuck defeated Sacred Heart Wednesday 12-0. Marucci had a no-hitter broken up with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. The Greyhounds’ final two home games will be against Kennedy on Friday and Wilby on Monday.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Wesche said. “We’ve lost five games, but four of those came by one run. We just need to keep doing a better job with runners in scoring position and I think we’ll be fine.”
And it doesn’t hurt to have Marucci.
“I told her, ‘You’re the only one that’s doing the job,’” Wesche said. “‘I wouldn’t trade you for any players in the world. Maybe a bag of Cheetos, but no other players.’”