Montclair coach Mike Goldstein had a somewhat surprised look on his face, shortly after his team recorded the final out in a bizarre game, at home, against Super Essex Conference (SEC) Liberty Division rival Columbia, as the Mounties rallied to win, 15-12, on April 9.
“We had, basically, no chance,” said Goldstein, using his thumb and forefinger to form the number zero. “I mean, zero.”
Goldstein’s Mounties were on the short end of an 11-3 deficit, in the bottom of the sixth, as ominous clouds covered Grove Street Field. Columbia’s starting pitcher, Julia Ethan, was pitching a solid game.
“She was in control,” said Goldstein of Ethan. “But sometimes an injury can turn a game around.”
Ethan was struck in the leg by a line drive in the sixth and was forced to leave the game. Montclair was able to capitalize with some clutch hitting to score 12 runs. In between the rally, which included some seeing-eye singles and hard hit balls in the gap, there was a major downpour which almost cost the Mounties the game.
The 2019 Mounties, on a dryer day than the game with Columbia. Montclair improved to 4-1 on the season. (Photo courtesy of Amy Carr. Click on photo for larger image)
Because, even though Montclair (4-1) had taken a 15-11 lead in the sixth, with the outburst, if the rain had lasted a few more minutes, the field would have been unplayable. Since the sixth inning hadn’t ended and Montclair was still batting, the rule calls for the game to return to the last full inning played, meaning Columbia’s 11-3 lead after five full would have held up for a Cougars win. But the rain subsided enough to allow the umpires the continue the contest.
“Crazy,” said Columbia coach Cliff Smith. “You can say that Julia’s injury was the difference, but let’s face it, we didn’t make enough plays on defense to slow them down in the bottom of the sixth. They swung the bats and made things happen. Hopefully, our kids know now that no lead is safe in this game. You have to make plays.”
Down four runs in the seventh, Columbia (3-2) did stage a rally, scoring once and loading the bases with two outs before Aliyah Andrews, Montclair’s starting pitcher who was removed after five innings, re-entered in the seventh, and struck out the final hitter to secure the save. Emily Amirata pitched the sixth inning and was credited with the victory.
Paige Carlson, Olivia Miller and Claire Salinardo had three hits each for Columbia while Sydney Waldon had two hits and drew a pair of walks. Salinardo scored three times and drove in two and Hudson Hassler doubled and scored twice.
Montclair was paced by Charlotte Carr and Brianna Leech, who both had monster games. Carr finished with three hits, including a double, three RBI and two runs scored and Leech was also 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Luella St. Pierre was 2-for 2 and Aliyah Taylor, Francesca Testa and Milani Davis also had two hits each. Remi Antinoro hit a triple and drove in two.
Montclair and Columbia are among the top teams, along with Livingston, to win the SEC Liberty. Montclair’s lone loss was a 13-11 setback to Bloomfield on opening day while Columbia now has two league losses, to Livingston and Montclair. In both of those games, the Cougars held late inning leads. Livingston was undefeated through games of April 9, heading into an SEC crossover game with Mount St. Dominic on April 10.
Montclair was scheduled to play at Newark Academy, on April 10.
“Hey look, we have a lot of work to do,” said Goldstein. “We’re playing hard, and that’s what gave us a chance to win today. We now go to Newark Academy, and they have a really potent lineup, especially from 1 to 5, so we have to put this behind us and prepare for a tough road game.
“That’s the way it’s going to be. We can hit the ball, but we have to be better defensively.”