By Mike Zummo
Mike Gabriele didn’t get a chance to see the celebration as he was checking on one of his players after a play at third base.
Jennifer Sorrentino lifted a fly ball deep enough into center field to score the game-winning run on Wednesday, giving Pine Bush the District 19 Senior softball championship.
“I saw Lillian (Gabriele) cross the plate and I knew for a fact that it was legal,” said Gabriele, one of Pine Bush’s coaches. “Once I saw that, I looked over to my other player on the ground at third base and I completely missed the celebration but watching the videos and seeing the kids jumping out of the dugout and off the basepaths, because we had bases loaded at the time, it was absolutely great. Those girls worked really hard and deserved it.”
It was the end of a tough road for Pine Bush, which played three games against the Town of Wallkill in the tournament.
They lost the first one in a game Gabriele said the team committed around 10 errors on July 1. That banished Pine Bush to the elimination bracket, where they routed Wallkill Area, 12-2 to earn another shot at Town of Wallkill.
“It’s not where you want to be, that’s for sure,” Gabriele said. “You like to come out of the winner’s bracket and play on your own turf just looking for one win, but we had to do it the hard way and go over to the Town of Wallkill. The girls never gave up.”
The first game was originally supposed to be played on the morning of July 3, but rain pushed it to July 5.
Pine Bush jumped ahead on Town of Wallkill early and forced the team into errors in what turned into a 14-4 victory to force the decisive Game 9.
“In order for those mistakes to happen, we had to be able to put the ball in play and we had to be aggressive in our at-bats and aggressive on the base paths as well to force the issue as often as we can,” Gabriele said.
“We were very fortunate that we were able to play, for the most part, a clean softball game and capitalize on the mistakes of the opposing team.”
Pine Bush jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday, as well, taking a 6-0 lead, but with the heat index in the 90s, Little League rules required a 10-minute break due to the heat.
It seemed to interrupt the flow of the game, as Town of Wallkill followed the break, putting up six runs to tie the game.
“It just seemed like the entire flow was gone, especially for our pitcher that was in a rhythm,” Gabriele said.
“More so than anyone else, our pitcher was in a perfect rhythm for the first three innings for doing things. But after that, it really did seem to stop that momentum.”
Pine bush broke the tie in the sixth inning with two runs, but Town of Wallkill got them back in the top of the inning to tie the game at 8-8 going into the seventh.
Pine Bush loaded the bases when Sorrentino came up to the plate.
“I told the runner on third, ‘you hold that bag. You only go when I tell you to,’” Gabriele said.
Sorrentino put it deep enough and Pine Bush punched its ticket to the state senior softball tournament, where the season will end regardless of the outcome. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, regionals and the World Series were canceled for all levels except Majors.
The tournament is scheduled to be played from Sunday until Wednesday and will be hosted by New City Little League.
“These girls did everything they needed to do,” Gabriele said. “They did the three things I asked them to do, get on base, move the runners over, and have fun, and that’s exactly what they did.”