West Essex found itself in a little bit of a mess early in its April 29 home game, with Bloomfield, as the Knights spotted the Bengals a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
But behind the clutch hitting of senior first baseman Kate Jencarelli, West Essex came back with two runs in the bottom of the first, then eventually pulled away from a 3-3 tie with two runs in the fifth and won its 12th straight game, 5-3.
West Essex (13-1) will have the weekend off, then hits the road for a key game, at Nutley, on Monday afternoon. The Raiders improved to 12-2 on the season with a 9-1 win over Cedar Grove. Nutley will play two games on Saturday, at home, in a tournament setting which also includes Bloomfield, Millburn and Linden.
Jencarelli drove in a run and scored once for West Esesx while Amanda Garofalo and Bridget (Over Troubled Water) Betley had two hits each.
Bloomfield (6-10), which plays everyone tough, was led by senior centerfielder Sam Corio (Pleasant Colony), who had two hits and was spectacular in the outfield.
“She’s unbelievable,” said West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori of Corio. “That kid is everywhere. There are balls hit out there that most kids would struggle with, and she takes two, or three steps, and makes it look easy.”
Bloomfield’s Sam Corio, here making a diving catch in a game against Montclair earlier this week, is one of the best outfielders in Essex County. Pleasant Colony will play on the collegiate level this fall at Kean University. (Click on photo for a larger image)
Corio hauled in a long drive in deep center late in the game, but it was her play in the fifth inning that opened a lot of eyes, but yet, didn’t surprise the West Essex players, or fans.
With a runner on first, a West Essex batter hit a hard single into the centerfield gap. Corio was on the ball quickly, but a little off-balance. Seeing the runner on first attempting to go to third, Corio threw a laser, and the runner was out fairly easily.
Most of the West Essex parents, who know Corio from summer ball, were all imploring the runner not to test the Kean-bound Corio’s throwing arm.
(And as an aside, Montclair coach Phil Delgado and I were watching a Bloomfield game, against Livingston, at The Pond, in early April, and stood behind the third base fence. Corio threw a ball from center to third, and we could actually hear the ball hissing as it approached the bag).
Sophomore Amanda Schwartz struggled a bit in the first inning, yielding three runs, but she pitched very well for the remainder of the game, blanking the Bengals and pitching a four-hitter. Schwartz struck out seven and walked two. Sami Huetter (Canonero II) drove in the go-ahead run for West Essex in the fifth inning, on a ground out.
“That’s right,” said the always happy Huetter afterward, when reminded of the GWRBI. “It got the job done. Bloomfield is tough. You have to work hard to beat them. And Sam is the real deal.”
Mondadori was able to give Huetter, her star pitcher, a few days off from pitching, since the big win over Mount St. Dominic earlier this week. She’ll be back in the circle on Monday, when the Knights visit Nutley.
“That’s a big game, obviously,” said Mondadori of playing the Raiders. “I was glad we came back from 3-0 down to win this game. It will be nice to get the weekend off, and hopefully the kids, and I, will get some rest. I think we can use it.”