EAST GREENWICH – Games are scheduled for seven innings, taking upwards of two hours to play.
Funny how all that time is intended but just one half inning, one moment, one swing can change the entire story of a game.
That was the case on Monday afternoon as the East Greenwich softball team kept their division record clean with a 3-2, walk-off win over Exeter-West Greenwich.
Despite a sub-.500 record and a loss to East Greenwich (9-0 in Division II-South) earlier in the season, the Knights (3-6 in Division II-South) came in to the game winners of two straight and – with ace Andrea Artesani on the mound – seemed not the least bit intimidated by the undefeated Avengers.
EWG put up three hits in the top of the first inning, taking control of the game right away as an RBI single by Jenna Bridges gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, while Artesani was nearly flawless in the early going.
“Fantastic,” said Knights’ coach Artie Tefft of his pitcher, who was unavailable for the first game against East Greenwich. “It’s great to have her back. Steadies the team. Makes the team play better around her.
“Totally different ballgame when she’s in there.”
Artesani yielded just one hit through the first three innings, while striking out four to keep the Avenger offense at bay.
Even as East Greenwich finally got things going in the fourth, plating a run on a single by Keri Pallister that just made it past a diving Alexis Jendzejec, Exeter-West Greenwich came right back in the top of the fifth to reclaim the lead.
From there the Knights had the Avengers on the ropes, until the last inning that is.
Trailing by one and down to their last out, the Avengers came alive to pull out the win as they have done a number of times this season.
With a runner on second, Sarah Gavin ripped a double right to tie the game at 2-2. In the very next at bat, starting pitcher Lauren Duvall hit a shot that fell right between Bridges and Rebecca DeFeo that brought Gavin around for the game-winner, as the sophomore narrowly beat a throw in an all-too-close-to-call play at the plate.
“This was two unbelievably good teams that played each other and we were just fortunate,” Avengers’ coach Rob Petrucci said after the game. “Exeter-West Greenwich had a lot of chances. That’s a great team. Well-coached team. We just got a break in the end that went our way.”
“Credit to East Greenwich,” Tefft said. “They’re a tough team and my girls stayed right with them.
“Until the last inning we did everything we were supposed to do against a great team. We had great pitching, great defense.
“Hopefully we’ll see them in the playoffs.”
While Petrucci was quick to praise Artesani after the game as one of the best pitchers his team has seen this season, it was his own pitcher who stole the show Monday, both on the mound and at the plate.
The Knights loaded the bases in the fourth and fifth innings and then got a runner to third in the sixth but Duvall managed to escape the situation each time, only giving up a run in the fifth.
“That’s just bearing down and getting it done,” Petrucci said. “We put a couple of people on here and there and for her to come back and to pitch through that kind of adversity should tell her a lot. We have the ultimate confidence in her.”
EWG was back in action Tuesday and didn’t fare much better, suffering a 6-3 loss to Scituate.
The Knights next game will be Thursday at 3:45 p.m. when they host Ponaganset.