By LOU REUTER
Senior Sports Writer
PLATTSBURGH - For the past three years in a row, the Lake Placid and Ticonderoga softball teams have battled it out for the Section VII, Class C title in championship games that have ended in dramatic finishes.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Alexis Megliore slides home with Lake Placid’s go-ahead run in the top of the ninth inning after Ticonderoga’s Kylie Austin was unable to come up with a late throw. The Sentinels, however, came through in the bottom of the ninth to win the Class C title in Thursday’s game.
And each time, the Blue Bombers have walked away from the SUNY Plattsburgh diamond with broken hearts.
On Thursday, the top-seeded Sentinels climbed out of a big hole early and then rallied again in extra innings to claim an 8-7 victory over Lake Placid.
The Blue Bombers came swinging as they rolled out to an early 6-0 lead. They scored once in their first at-bat and five more times in the top of the second, and then kept Ticonderoga off the scoreboard until the fifth inning. In their fifth trip to the plate, the Sentinels put together a five-run rally with two outs to close the gap to 6-5, and then got the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.
After neither team could score in the first extra inning, Lake Placid jumped ahead 7-6 in the ninth when junior Alex Megliore, who came in as a courtesy runner, reached home on a wild pitch. Lake Placid, however, couldn't hold on as Ticonderoga won the game in the bottom of the frame when Katie Palandrani hit a walk-off double to right field to send home the tying and winning runs.
It was the third straight year the two teams met in the championship game, with Ticonderoga winning each time by a single run.
"I don't think we lost this game; Ticonderoga's kids had to win it," Lake Placid head coach Donna Moody said. "They are a good team, they always play well, and we made them work for it. Obviously, we're disappointed, but I'm happy with how we competed. I wouldn't have been happy if we didn't give it our all, and we did."
"I give Lake Placid all the credit in the world," Ticonderoga coach Shelly Young said. "They always play us close, a lot closer than I would like. These games have been so incredible, sometimes I just don't know what happens out there. We just hung in there and won this."
Senior Brooke Reid scored in the first inning for Lake Placid. She reached on a single and then was knocked home on an RBI double by Liz Bimonte.
Leading 1-0, the Blue Bombers began to pound the ball in the top of the second. They strung together five straight hits, starting with Hanna Potter's lead-off single. After Payton Barney and Haley Brandes followed with singles, Adele Jesmer belted a two-run double to give Lake Placid a 3-0 edge. The Blue Bombers then kept it up, with Jesmer scoring on a RBI single by Taylor Maiorca, who in turn reached home on a sacrifice by Reid.
The Blue Bombers, hitting spree in the second chased Ticonderoga starter Jordan McKee from the pitcher's circle. The game then turned into a pitching duel between Lake Placid ace Serina Hayes and Kylie Austin. After going scoreless in the first four frames, the Sentinels erupted for five runs in the fifth, which was fueled by back-to-back doubles by Palandrani and Andrea Rich, who bat third and fourth in the order. Lake Placid finally got out of the inning clinging to a 6-5 lead.
Both teams went scoreless in the sixth, and after the Blue Bombers couldn't pad their lead in the top of the seventh, Palandrani reached home with the tying in the bottom of the frame.
Neither team scored in the eighth, and Hayes led off with a walk for Lake Placid in the top of the ninth. Megliore took over to run the base paths for Hayes, and Bimonte followed with a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. They advanced on a passed ball, and Megliore then slid safely home on a wild pitch.
After holding Lake Placid at bay for most of the game, a tiring Austin was replaced by McKee in the circle, and she retired three of the next four batters to get Ticonderoga out of the top half of the inning trailing by one run with Lake Placid runners stranded at second and third.
The Sentinels then took control in the ninth. McKee led off with a walk, and Haliegh Wright followed with a double. Palandrani then stepped up to the plate and smacked her second double of the afternoon, which ended another Blue Bombers bid for a title in their fourth straight trip to the championship game.
"Ticonderoga is a good hitting team, and they always seem to get big hits when they need them," Hayes said. "They are a team that battles, and they are a team that never quits, just like us."
With the win, the Sentinels improved to 14-3 overall and next play Monday against the Section II champion. Meanwhile, the Blue Bombers ended with an 11-6 mark and their most successful season since joining the Champlain Valley Athletic Conference.
Hayes, Reid, Brandes, Kelsey Taylor and Mckenzee Bruce where the five seniors who played in their final game for the Blue Bombers.