Softball: St. Joseph tops Newtown in extra inning clash

Alyssa Noce hustled home when a third strike went to the backstop in the sixth inning. — Andy Hutchison photos
Alyssa Noce hustled home when a third strike went to the backstop in the sixth inning. — Andy Hutchison photos

Thursday’s out-of-conference clash between the St. Joseph and Newtown High softball teams had a little of just about everything, and ended with a walk-off hit by Allie Petronchak – in extra innings — after the Cadets overcame a go-ahead home run by the visiting Nighthawks one frame earlier.

St. Joseph won this thriller, 5-4 in the ninth inning, to improve to 3-1 overall.

Newtown, which had won a pair of one-run nail-biters to begin the season, fell to 2-2.

Trailing 4-3 in the eighth, and down to their final out, the Cadets extended the game when Kayla Giacobbe belted a home run to right-center field.

The game-saving bash was particularly rewarding for Giacobbe given she missed a chance to end the game with a wild throw in the seventh.

“We never gave up, the kids came back...Big hits in big spots,” St. Joe’s coach Jeff Babineau said.

After four scoreless but eventful frames in which both St. Joe’s pitcher Payton Doiron wiggled out of trouble multiple times, the Nighthawks capitalized on one of four St Joe's errors to plate the game’s first run.

St. Joseph evened things in the bottom half of the fifth when Brittany Mairano singled up the middle to knock in Madison Fitzgerald, who had doubled leading off.

The Cadets scored twice in the last of the sixth.

Kaitlin Capobianco walked leading off. Charlee Horton reached on a bunt single and a bobble at first base allowed the lead runner to advance to third. The go-ahead run scored when Giacobbe walked on a wild pitch, making it a 2-1 game. Pinch runner Alyssa Noce scored from third on a strikeout when the ball got past the catcher.

In the top of the seventh, the 3-1 lead was in jeopardy when the Nighthawks got their leadoff batter on as a result of an infield error. A lineout nearly went for a double play, but Giacobbe’s throw was offline.

One pitch later, Villanova-bound Sara Kennedy, Newtown’s pitcher, did damage at the plate when she tied things with a homer to left.

Newtown’s Kaysie Fisher homered to left on a 3-2 pitch, giving Newtown the lead in the top half of the eighth.

After Giacobbe’s tying homer in the home half of the frame, Newtown got its leadoff batter aboard in the ninth before Doiron got a strikeout and caught a bunted ball and threw to first to double up the runner.

That sent the game to the last of the ninth still even 4-4.

Mairano ripped a double off the base of the wall in right-center with one out and Petronchak followed with hard single just inside the right-field line to win the game.

Doiron struck out seven and Kennedy fanned 12.

Doiron got out of a second and third, one-out jam in the third, with a strikeout and flyout.

Newtown nearly scored on a wild pitch in the fourth, but St Joe’s catcher Horton got the ball to Doiron covering the plate, and she applied the tag.

In the top of the fifth, the Cadets limited the damage to just one run thanks in large part to a diving stop by third baseman Cami Heintz, who stepped on third for the force out.

Babineau points out that errors are part of the game, particularly early in the season, but that he would like for his team to improve its fielding.

“As I told them that’s one thing we’ve got to clean up,” Babineau said.

The coach was pleased that Mairano, a freshman, had two hits, and that Giacobbe redeemed herself with a timely home run.

Newtown is a familiar opponent for the Cadets each spring.

“I want to play the best teams I can to make us better in the end,” Babineau said.