By Bill Landon
Tori Hussey sent Smithtown East into the next round.
Her one-out grand slam in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie on the way to the No. 6 Bulls’ 7-4 Class AA first-round win over No. 11 Half Hollow Hills West May 15.
“I heard my first base coach saying ‘get out, get out’ and then after that, I heard everyone cheering and then I saw it,” Hussey said. “I knew it was a changeup, and I had to be ready for anything at that point.”
Half Hollow Hills West struck first when pitcher Jillian Weinstein smacked a two run home run over the left field fence in the top of the third. With one out and runners at the corners, the Colts threatened to extend their lead in the top of the fourth when an infield line drive sailed toward Smithtown East’s short stop, but Kyra Dalli snatched it and fired the ball to first before the runner could get back for a double play that ended the inning.
The Bulls battled back in the bottom of the fifth inning — with runners on first and third — when Samantha Swenson stepped into the batter’s box. She jumped on the first pitch and found the gap to bring home Lauren Schiraldi and make it a one-run game.
“I remember them being a good team the last time we played them — they definitely got better as the season went on and that showed,” Swenson said. “But we played our game, we got ahead of them and we won.”
Courtney Hohenberger’s bat spoke next when she ripped a single into the outfield, scoring Dalli from third to tie the game with no outs. After an out, Taylor Bigliani was up next, and showed patience at the plate. She let pitches outside the zone pass her by to draw a walk and load the bases. Hussey had a full count before slamming the ball out of the park, driving home Swenson, Hohenberger and Bigliani for a 6-2 lead.
Swenson added another base hit, sending Schiraldi over to third, and Hohenberger belted the ball deep to bring home Schiraldi.
“Our defense was shaky at the end, but we stuck together, made a few great plays,” Hohenberger said. “[In the seventh inning] I just knew we had to get the outs.”
Starting pitcher Ashley DeGiorgio got into trouble, loading the bases with no outs in the top of the seventh, and sending head coach Glenn Roper to the mound. He decided to stay with his starter, who limited Half Hollow Hills West to two runs before retiring the side.
“They had their best hitter at the plate and what was going through my mind is ‘do I change the pitcher or not?’ It’s a tough decision,” Roper said. “It’s a tough spot to put a kid into that situation with bases loaded and nobody out.”
DeDiorgio struck out four in the complete game win. Swenson went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Smithtown East will hit the road May 17 to take on No. 3 Deer Park with first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.