In Div. IV semi-final
BY GENE DELORENZO
PROCTOR — West Rutland continued the school’s improbable run to a possible state championship by coming from behind to top rival Proctor, 7-6, before over 300 fans at Proctor’s softball/baseball complex on Tuesday afternoon.
A typical, back and forth, tight win for the Golden Horde? Well, not exactly.
For 5 and two-thirds innings it was all Proctor. The team had played flawless defense, received great pitching, and had timely hitting including a booming homerun over the fence by power hitter Rhi Lubaszewski. Proctor led 6-0 going into the top of the sixth.
Then West Rutland put two players on the bases with no one out and it looked like they might break up the shutout. Proctor pitcher Cadence Goodwin had been letter perfect to that point. When Olivia Cyr hit a line drive that was snared by Proctor’s second baseman and turned into a double play, all hope seemed to have faded away for West Rutland.
But, as Coach Laurie Serrani said afterwards: “We are the comeback kids.”
Somehow, looking down the lineup card, WRHS has some big bats in the middle of the order. If they could only get there. To that point, the bottom three in the order were 0 for 7. Proctor, by contrast, had used the bottom of their order to go 3 for 6 with several runs scored, and those batters had been an integral part of the six runs the Phantoms had put up.
But with two out, Westsider Camryn Williams legged out an infield hit. Then three straight walks ensued and, suddenly, Peyton Guay, West Rutland’s star pitcher and hitter stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, trailing 6-2. A grand slam loomed? But it was not to be. Proctor elected to walk her intentionally for the third time, forcing in a run and drawing the ire of the visitor’s fans.
It was now a 6-3 ballgame with Arianna Coombs, cleanup hitter, at the plate. She stroked a solid line drive into the left centerfield alley and by the time the dust had cleared she stood at second base and Guay had scampered around the bases to tie the game. Bedlam. Finally, however, the Phantoms got the third out.
Proctor could not score in the bottom of the sixth and the Golden Horde had a chance in the top of the seventh, but two pop ups left the team with two out, no one on base. No problem. Camryn Williams (that name again) was hit by a pitch. She would get to third on an infield error and eventually score on a wild pitch that put the Horde ahead 7-6.
With a possible win staring her in the face, freshman Peyton Guay took on the look of the state champion basketball player (West Rutland had defeated Proctor by one point in March at the Barre Auditorium). With Rhi Lubaszewski on second base, she took a line drive smoked up the middle by Laci French and calmly fired a strike to third base to nail Rhi going into the bag.
A strikeout and a groundout later and West Rutland had emerged with an improbable 7-6 win to propel the team into the State Championship on Saturday. Time and place and opponent to be determined. Check the VPA website.
For Proctor, it was a highly disappointing loss. The team finishes at 14-2 and truly had a great season. Even on this day, they had played an excellent game and done virtually everything possible to insure a win. But games without clocks march to their own drummer, and this one had it all.
It also had the two head coaches, Coach Bennet from Proctor and Coach Serrani from West Rutland exchanging a meaningful and special hug after the game at the pitcher’s mound. Likewise, several of the players from each of the two teams were in similar embraces. No, you can’t make this up. So many times the youngsters around us teach us lessons in life that if we all lived them – we would have a better world.