East Boston wasted no time beating Fenway Tuesday afternoon, clinching berths in both the city and state tournaments.
“In the beginning of the game, we all had a talk about how we knew this game was a do- or-die situation in order to get into [the city tournament] again,” East Boston pitcher Stephanie Rizzo said after the 15-5 victory. “We just put our teamwork together and that pumped us up more to play hard.”
If Rizzo hadn’t pitched as well as she did, allowing only two hits and striking out 12, East Boston might have lost, ending its hopes of reaching the postseason.
“We knew if we didn’t win today then the season would likely be over, but the kids came out playing and scored their runs early and we hung on at the end,” coach Thomas Elliot said.
Early scoring is exactly what East Boston did; by the third inning, it was already up, 13-0, and eight of its nine batters had reached base at least twice. Catcher Vanessa Bernabie led the way for the balanced offense, going 3 for 4 with three RBIs.
Rizzo showed her dominance through the first four innings, not allowing a single hit. The Panthers did score a run in the third inning when sophomore Shamaine Darden drew a walk, then stole second, third, and home.
Fenway’s Vanesa Guevara ended Rizzo’s chance at a no-hitter when she hit a line drive to left field in the fifth inning. That hit also brought in the second Fenway run of the inning, preventing the mercy rule from taking effect.
“We’re a team that doesn’t give up,” said Fenway coach Joseph Cheung. “We didn’t win as many games as we wanted to this year but we fought hard in every game and we don’t want to get no-hit. No one wants that to happen.”
For Rizzo, however, the no-hitter was not a priority.
“When the girl got the hit, I was just looking for the next out," she said. "I just took it out of my head.
“What was working so well is my catcher [Bernabie] behind the plate. She stopped every single ball, she didn’t let anything by, she threw it and she did a good job.”
Even though the game guaranteed East Boston a trip to the postseason, Elliot emphasized that his team can’t look ahead to this weekend’s city tournament.
“I try to teach our kids ‘one game at a time, one game at a time,' ” Elliot said. “We still have two regular-season games to go. Were playing two Division 1 teams back to back tomorrow and Thursday, so hopefully that gets us healthy for our own playoffs in the [city tournament].”
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