EAST BOSTON – Suffolk softball needed extra time to do it, but the top-seeded Rams secured a spot in the GNAC Championship as it eliminated seventh-seed Emmanuel behind a 4-3, eight-inning victory Sunday morning at East Boston Memorial Park.
SCORE: Suffolk 4, Emmanuel 3
RECORDS: Suffolk (31-8) | Emmanuel (25-18)
HOW IT HAPPENED
Back-to-back over throws by Suffolk's defense allowed Emmanuel to get on the scoreboard first in the opening inning.
The Rams responded in the second, however, to make it a new ball game. With two down, Ashley Zulla sent a solo shot to center field to level the playing field at 1-all.
In the third, the team's traded runs to keep it a tied ball game. A hard-hit base knock by Devlin Frost scored Payton Sylvester, who singled, advanced on an error by the Saints' first baseman and used a sac bunt by Sydney Littlefield to reach third. For the second time on the day, the Saints capitalized on a Suffolk error to equalize the score at 2-2.
The one-run trend continued in the home half of the fourth in favor of Emmanuel. With Audrey Esakoff on second after wearing a pitch and moving over on a sac bunt by Meaghan Price, Yuleska Ramirez-Tejea rocked a stand-up triple to right field to bring in the go-ahead run for the Saints, 4-3.
Delaney Sylvester has been Suffolk's hero often this season and continued to take on that role as the senior catcher's 10th homer of the season locked the game at 3-all in the top of the sixth to keep things interesting.
On the defensive side of things, the other Sylvester, Payton, kept the Saints off the scoreboard. With the go-ahead run waiting on third for the Saints and two outs on the board Sylvester faced Ramirez-Tejea at the plate. The rookie righthander showed composure and fanned Emmanuel's right fielder swinging to keep it a 3-3 game.
Payton Sylvester continued to shove in the bottom of the seventh to keep Suffolk alive. After a deep fly out to center field, which was grabbed by Frost, the Worcester, Massachusetts, native sat down back-to-back hitters to send the game into extra times.
After intentionally walking Delaney Sylvester, Hailey Cockroft took the Rams' spot on the bas and moved into scoring positing thanks to a 43 ground out by Zulla. With two down, McKenzie McGrath found a gap in right field and Cockroft turned on her wheels and beat the throw home to put Suffolk in front, 4-3.
Suffolk's defense backed up Payton Sylvester in the circle, who secured the final out and the win with her 12th punchout of the day.
- Payton Sylvester had a day allowing three runs, one earned, on three hits and one walk, while sitting down 12 hitters.
- Megan Kieselback also stood day on the rubber with a four-run, eight-hit, four-walk, four-strikeout outing.
- McGrath was the lone Ram with multiple hits as the junior third baseman went 2-for-3 with the winning RBI to her credit.
- Delaney Sylvester's and Zulla's one-hit efforts each were dingers with the senior and sophomore each recording one RBI and one run apiece.
- Frost had one hit and one RBI, while Payton Sylvester tallied one hit and one run.
- Kelly Keane went 1-for-1 at the dish.
- The Rams advance to the conference championship for the second straight season.
- Suffolk makes its sixth trip to the league's title series, three of which have come under Jaclyn Davis.
- Suffolk played in extra innings in the GNAC playoffs for the third-time in its 17 trips.
- For the first time in Suffolk softball history, the Rams played in two extra-inning games in the GNAC tournament.
- The Rams remain unbeaten all-time in extra-innings in the GNAC tournament, moving to 3-0 in such contests.
- Only four Rams have produced 10 jacks in a season in Suffolk softball history, with her tying-dinger, Delaney Sylvester became the first-ever player in blue-and-gold to knock 10 homers in two campaigns, accomplishing the feat in back-to-back seasons, 2017 and 2018.
- Payton Sylvester had a career-high 12 strikeouts, tying the most in the Davis era, set by Sarah Chasse in a 5-2 win over Johnson State March 23, 2014.
Suffolk takes on second-seed Johnson & Wales in the GNAC Championship. The Rams must win to force a second game for all the glory.