By Brian Deakyne
MIDDLETOWN — With a dominant pitcher and a high-flying offense, the Middletown South Eagles took another step towards a championship season, Monday afternoon.
Senior pitcher Allison Nolan worked her way out of a few jams, but diminished the cross-town Lions, using six strikeouts on the day to help South mercy Middletown North, 11-1.
The game, which lasted five innings, witnessed the Eagles score at least one run in every inning, as South jumped all over Middletown North Lions’ sophomore pitcher Audrey Thomas.
Thomas lasted four innings, allowing 9 runs on 11 hits. She also walked three batters and hit two more on her way to the loss.
“We swung the bats really well, and that’s real important to us,” Middletown South head coach Tom Erbig said. “We make good contact and we hit some real hard shots.”
The Eagles offensive prowess was highlighted by a three-run home run from senior Erica Falvey in the top of the fourth inning and a two-run home run from senior Jill Troiano in the top of the fifth inning.
“On [Erica] Falvey’s home run, that’s the fastest I’ve ever seen the ball clear the field.”
With South holding a commanding 6-0 lead, Troiano and senior Alex Jacinto both belted one-out singles, setting up Falvey for the blast to left field.
“Honestly, it was just one of those hits where you don’t feel it when you go through it,” Falvey said. “I just saw the pitch, zoned in, and went with it.”
The home run was one of four times Falvey was on base. She knocked in a first-inning run with an RBI double down the left field line, was hit by a pitch in the third inning and added a single to center field in the top of the fifth inning.
“I was really relaxed today. For whatever reason, I felt like I saw the ball coming in really well and hit it hard when I had the chance,” Falvey said.
Middletown South got RBI base knocks from Jacinto and junior Alli Podmajersky in the top of the first inning, handing Nolan a lead before she ever touched the rubber.
“It makes me focus more out there,” Nolan said about pitching with a lead, “You can’t lose your focus. Pitchers tend to ease back and it’s harder but I think [Tom] Erbig definitely keeps us in check.”
Troiano added a two-RBI base hit to center field in the second inning, scoring freshman Alex Corrigan and sophomore Grace Heller, pushing the Eagles lead to 5-0.
Nolan helped her own cause in the third inning, driving home Podmajersky on an infield single. With runners on second and third, Nolan was able to squeak the ball past Thomas and no infielder could make a play.
Troiano’s fifth inning home run to left field pushed Middletown South to the mercy rule, giving them an 11-0 lead while driving in sophomore courtesy runner Kristen Podmajersky.
Nolan worked out of trouble in the first and second innings, stranding runners in scoring position both times.
The Lions Nikki Alfano led off the game with a double to right-center field, and after being sacrificed to third base, Nolan struck out senior Victoria Zechman and freshman Quinn Thorton to get out of the inning.
Later, sophomore Kristi Micelli opened the bottom of the second inning by being hit by a pitch, and moved over to second base with two outs. She would stay there, however, as Nolan struck out sophomore Kaitlin Quinn to end the inning.
“The trouble wasn’t her own fault, we just got in trouble,” Erbig said. “She’s a bulldog out there. When she’s determined that she’ll get it done, she really does a good job getting it done.”
Nolan pitched all five innings, allowing no runs and earning the shutout win.
“I used my drop-curve a lot and my screwball worked really well today,” Nolan said.
Middletown South out hit the Lions, 15-4 and did not strikeout once.
“It’s always a battle, it doesn’t matter what’s going on at North, or what’s going at South. When the two of them play, it’s always a tough, tough battle,” Erbig said.
“It’s always a great rivalry playing North, but to win it for us seniors,” Falvey said, “It was big to come out here and win it.”