QUEENSBURY — The Hamburg Bulldogs won the New York State softball Class A championship on Saturday in a way no one could have imagined.
They beat Sayville, 5-3, in the finals, but it was their 1-0 win in eight innings over Tappan Zee in the semifinals that left many in the crowd at Adirondack Sports Complex in disbelief.
With runners on second and third and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Tappan Zee was trying to intentionally walk Bridget Hogan to load the bases and set up a force out at any base. Instead, Tappan Zee’s pitcher let a pitch get a little too close to the strike zone and Hogan reached out and smoked the ball to right-center allowing Maddy Tucker to trot home.
“You could tell the fielders weren’t exactly ready for a ball to get hit,” said Hamburg coach Lisa Palma. “It looked like she had never intentionally walked a batter. Bridget took it outside – it was great, it was clutch, and it was crazy.”
With two outs in the eighth, Tucker reached on a single to the outfield and Allison Salerno doubled to left leaving runners on second and third. That set the stage for Hogan.
The title was the first in Hamburg softball history. They reached the final four last year, but lost, 2-1, in the semifinals to Jamesville-DeWitt.
The start of the game was delayed by two hours because the fields were still wet from Friday’s heavy rains.
Hamburg’s win over Sayville in the final also had its share of drama. The Bulldogs scored two runs in the sixth inning to take the lead, 5-3. Sarah Mertowski reached on an error and after two outs, Tucker singled. Salerno then delivered with the game-winning RBI, and Hogan, who pitched a four-hitter with six strikeouts, then drove in the fifth run.
Eighth-grader Heather Haberman hit a two-run-homer over the fence in the fifth to give Hamburg a 3-2 lead.
The win was an emotional one for Palma, who has been dealing with death of a close family friend on Thursday. Matt Perillo. The football and basketball official died in his sleep on Thursday morning. He was a dear friend of her father, also named Matt, and both had been coming to the team’s sectional games together.
“I think we got a little help from above,” said Lisa, in her seventh season. “There was an angel looking down on us.”
The Bulldogs finished 18-4.
CLASS C: Sam Mott hit a solo home run as Frewsburg beat Sandy Creek, 2-1. for its first state softball championship.
Mott pitched six hitless innings in the Bears’ 7-0 semifinal win over Pierson of Bridgehampton.
CLASS D: Pine Valley fell behind early and lost, 5-2, to Fort Ann of Section II in the semifinals.
The Lady Panthers trailed, 2-1, after the first inning, 4-2, after three and surrendered a fifth run in the seventh. Pine Valley, winner of its first Section VI title since 2005, finished 9-9 under first-year coach Danielle Arnone. The Lady Panthers had four hits, two by Nicole Rinehart. Alexandrea Bentham added a triple and Laurel Killock doubled.
“Their pitcher had nice speed, but wasn’t overpowering, I’m a little disappointing that we didn’t do more offensively,” said Arnone. “We couldn’t get the hits that we were hoping for.”