NAUGATUCK — Simsbury clung to a 5-4 advantage with two outs in the top of the seventh inning when Carly Williams sent a grand slam over the center-field fence to virtually put an end to the Greyhounds’ season.
The No. 20 Trojans came to No. 13 Naugatuck on Tuesday and left with a 9-4 victory in the Class LL state tournament first round.
Simsbury (12-9) plated a run in each of the first three innings before Naugatuck (14-9) stormed back to take the lead. A late Greyhound rally went for naught when the Trojans exploded for six runs in the top of the seventh to put the game away.
“We had a scouting report that allowed us to at least simulate what the Simsbury pitcher did,” Naugatuck head coach Kevin Wesche said about the unorthodox delivery of Williams, the Simsbury pitcher. “What I think she did was a great job of hitting the corners. That kept out batters guessing for the most part and kept us off balance.”
In the top of the seventh, Simsbury loaded the bases on a solid single up the middle, a bunt that didn’t produce an out and an infield error. Another infield error tied the game before Christina Medico sent an RBI single through the hole to put the Trojans ahead, 5-4.
With the game still hanging in the balance, Williams lofted a high, towering drive that cleared the fence for a homer to make it 9-4.
The Simsbury rally came right after Naugatuck came back to take its first lead in the bottom of the sixth. Fortier led off the inning by crushing a double into the gap but was gunned down at third. Wallace followed with her second double of the game and wound up scoring the tying run on a groundout by Nina Kosciuszek.
“I really felt that we could come back against this team after I hit that double to get us on the board,” Wallace said. “Then we took the lead in the sixth inning. I felt the game was ours but they hit that grand slam and took it away from us. It’s a tough way to end the season but I’m so proud of what this team accomplished during the season.”
With the game tied, Melissa Kirschbaum stepped in and sent one out of the yard for the go-ahead run to make it 4-3. Naugatuck was just three outs away from advancing to the next round.
“I thought my home run was pretty much the game winner,” said Kirschbaum. “I really tried hard not to think of it that way but we were just three outs away. This is tough but we had an incredible season. No one thought we would accomplish what we did.”
Julia Dennen led off the game with a solid triple to the gap and later scored on a passed ball. Simsbury upped the margin to 2-0 in the second inning when Alex McDermott and Dennen strung back-to-back hits together.
The Trojans made it a 3-0 advantage in the third when Laura Yablecki singled through the middle to score Williams, who drew a leadoff walk.
Naugatuck battled back in the bottom of the third when Sarah Chandler and Gillian Fortier drew two-out walks to set the table.
Lianne Wallace got every bit of a two-run double that rattled off the base of the center-field fence, closing the gap to 3-2.
The Greyhounds finished the season 14-9 after reaching the Naugatuck Valley League tournament semifinals last week.