Witek Game-Winning Triple Lifts Hurricanes in 10th Inning

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – For Hoosac Valley senior Rylynn Witek, hit No. 100 was nice.
But No. 101 really was the bomb.
Witek hit two triples on Friday at Mount Greylock – one for her 100th career base hit and the other to drive in the winning runs in the top of the 10th inning as the Hurricanes outlasted Mount Greylock for a 10-8 victory.
“Definitely, with my 100th hit, I was feeling a little nervous,” Witek said. “I was a little under pressure.
“But I felt more under pressure trying to get those runs in. But I’m glad I pulled through, and I’m glad that we hit well as a team and really came all together.”
The Hurricanes needed a little something from every player in their lineup to get past the Mounties, who are ranked No. 4 in the state in Division 5 in the most recent MIAA power rankings.
Eighth-ranked Hoosac Valley rallied for three runs in the top of the 10th to take the lead for good.
It started when Trinity Brackett reached on a two-base error and stole third base with one out. Mikayla Witto then pinch hit in the nine hole and reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second while the Mounties kept Brackett from scoring.
That brought up Witek, who hits at a .500 clip but flew out with the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the eighth.
This time, she hit a Kami Sweet offering into a stiff headwind and deep into left center to bring home both Brackett and Witto to make it 9-7.
Witek then stole home to give the Hurricanes some extra insurance.
It came in handy.
Witek started the bottom of the 10th by picking up her 12th and 13th strikeouts of the game.
But with two out, Mount Greylock’s A.J. Pelkey ripped a single up the middle. Mia Filliault followed with a single to left to put runners at the corners.
Malia Koffi reached on an infield single to drive in Pelkey and get the Mounties within two with two runners on base.
That brought up Emma Newberry, a .600 hitter on the season. She lofted the ball high into center field and that wind that had been challenging fielders all afternoon.
But Hoosac Valley eighth-grader Nora Kondel was able to track it nearly to the infield and make a basket catch to end the game.
“The wind was definitely a factor, but I have faith in my outfielders,” Witek said. “They always make plays. They come in clutch when it’s time too. When the ball came down into her glove, it was a surreal feeling. I’m proud of her for catching that, especially under the circumstances.”
“I’ll tell you what was going through my mind: I was saying, ‘Catch it. Please, please, please, please, please, please,” Hoosac Valley coach Mike Ameen said. “I said ‘please’ six times.
“She caught it, and I told her in the [post-game] huddle, ‘You almost dropped it. But that’s much better than dropping it.’ “
Kondel is one of many Hoosac Valley varsity regulars who are yet to start high school. The Hurricanes’ youth was on full display Friday with ninth-grader Brackett starting the winning rally and eighth-grader Ella Bissaillon bunting in a run, stealing two bases and scoring in the middle of an early three-run rally.
“I told them out there, that was the best game we’ve played, obviously, the whole year, and it was the best game I’ve participated in in probably three years,” Ameen said. “Trinity, the No. 8 hitter, was on base three times, I think, laid down a great bunt, stealing bases. People stepped up.
“Rylynn couldn’t do it all herself. Rylynn came up bases loaded with no out, and we didn’t score [in the eighth], and we still came back and won the game. It was deflating, and it’s great to see the team come back.”
Witek walked her first time to the plate leading off the top of the first. She stole second and eventually scored to give herself a 1-0 lead.
Her triple leading off the third ignited a three-run rally to make it a 4-0 cushion
But Mount Greylock broke through in a big way in the bottom of the fourth, scoring six runs on four hits, none bigger than Pelkey’s two-run single.
The 6-4 lead lasted until the top of the sixth, when Hoosac scored three more runs thanks largely to hitters 6 through 8 in its lineup. Kondel started things with a leadoff single. An error and a Brackett single loaded the bases with one out for Witek, who hit a sacrifice fly to right.
Two more runs scored on pitches that got to the backstop to give Hoosac Valley a 7-6 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Koffi hit a one-out single and came around to score on a groundout to tie the game.
But Witek ended up leaving two runners on in that inning and retired the side in order over the next three to get to the top of the 10th.
“Honestly, we haven’t really had a close game with that much adrenaline going,” Witek said. “With the extra innings, being tied for a majority of the game, that adrenaline gave us the energy we needed to get the win.”
Both teams move on to the post-season starting Monday when Mount Greylock (11-7) hosts Drury in the Western Mass Class C quarter-finals and Tuesday when Hoosac Valley (12-4) hosts Ware in the Class D quarters.
Mount Greylock coach Mark Pierson said games like Friday’s loss do more for his team than some of the blowout wins the Mounties have had this season.
“Every good game, win or lose, you can learn from,” he said. “I think we played hard, we never quit, we were behind a couple of times but kept coming back, right to the last out.
“That’s what I like to see.”
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