SEYMOUR — With a trip to the state championship round on the line, Union City came up just short in the Little League Junior Softball sectional final game on Tuesday night at Bob Lang Field.
Union City brought the tying run to the plate in its last at bat, but Black Rock of Bridgeport held on for a 6-3 win and advanced to the state title round that begins this weekend. The loss ended Union City’s post-season run, which included a district championship and two victories in the sectional round.
After taking early leads in its first two sectional games, Union City fell behind early against Black Rock in this pivotal third game. Black Rock, the District 11 champion, scored once in the first and twice in the third to take a 3-1 lead and take control of the game after three innings.
“That might have been the biggest inning of the day,” Union City manager Steve Litke said. “We still never thought we were out of it.”
Perhaps the turning point of the game came in the fifth, when Black Rock’s Karla Grajeda drove in two runs with a line-drive single to right to score Alayne Martinez and Iman Ross. The runs came off of Danielle Bombardier, who came on in relief of Sam Hilse.
“That really broke it open,” Black Rock manger Brandon Medina said of Grajeda’s hit. “That was really a huge hit.”
Bombardier allowed one more run in the seventh, but was otherwise solid.
“She throws the ball hard,” Litke said of Bombardier. “She throws harder than most girls.”
It was Union City’s bats that took a while to heat up.
Sydney Cotto jump-started Union City’s offense in the sixth with a leadoff single. Bombardier and Kayla Rotatori followed with walks to load the bases.
Black Rock starter Rachel Landlock induced a popup from Nicole Lopes to get the first out. Jordyn Sigetti drew a walk and forced in a run to cut the deficit to 5-2. However, Union City was unable to capitalize the rest of the frame.
“She consistently throws strikes and lets her defense work for her,” Black Rock manager Brandon Medina said of Landock. “We’re here this far because of Rachel.”
Landock helped herself in the seventh at the plate to secure an insurance run.
With Grajeda on third and one out, Landock dropped a bunt that was fielded by Cotto, who attempted to make a play at first. Landock beat out a close play and Grajeda scored to give Black Rock a 6-2 lead.
Union City didn’t quit.
Sandra Marques began the final inning with a base hit to left. With the rally underway, Hilse lined a single down the left-field line.
Brianna Britto, the No. 2 hitter in U.C.’s lineup, hit a sharp grounder to Grajeda, Black Rock’s shortstop, who made a nifty play and attempted to tag Marques and missed. Grajeda completed the play to narrowly get Britto at first.
With runners on second and third and two outs, Cotto smashed a grounder between first and second, which was fielded by right fielder Jocelyn Bousigout, who threw a strike to first to record the out. Marques scored on the play to cut the deficit to 6-3 and Martinez came on in relief to record the final out.
“We work on that in practice,” Medina said. “She picked it up and threw it. It was all muscle memory. You practice how you play.”
Medina came away impressed with Union City.
“We had to play an almost perfect game to beat them,” Medina said. “And if we didn’t, we would have lost.”
Litke said he and the coaching staff were proud of the Union City team.
“We were one good inning away from making it to the state finals,” Litke said. “I can’t say enough about how hard they played.”