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Mayer, 'smallball' helps Lions vanquish Bengals in Div. I softball playoffs

June 2, 2013

Lincoln senior Emily Bouthillette and her teammates stretched their unbeaten streak to 40 games on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 win over Bay View in their Division I winners’ bracket game at Saylesville Park’s Sullivan Field. (PHOTO BY ERNEST A. BROWN)

LINCOLN – After watching Bay View’s Shannon McArthur bloop a shot that hugged the left-field foul line, Lincoln High head coach Dick Ryan got up from his dugout perch and asked the home plate umpire to grant him time.

With the infielders and star pitcher Lindsay Mayer gathered around him on the mound, Ryan conveyed the following decree – don’t let the Bengals bring the potential tying run to the plate. If the hitter that was next in line to face Mayer was fortunate enough to blast one out of Sullivan Field, the Lions would remain ahead by one run.

Perhaps more than anything, Ryan’s in-game conference was purposely designed to supply Mayer with a few additional moments to catch her breath. Needing one more out to secure a trip to Rhode Island College, Mayer induced Bay View’s Courtney McArthur to hit a pop up that came on a 2-2 offering and ended up in the glove of shortstop Emily Bouthillette (two hits).

The scare was over as top-seeded Lincoln secured a 4-1 triumph over No. 9 Bay View in the opening round of the Division I winners’ bracket. Next up on the Lions’ quest to make it back-to-back state championships is a Tuesday afternoon semifinal-round clash with 12th seeded Toll Gate at RIC. The Bengals head to the losers’ bracket where they will face No. 13 Mount St. Charles Monday afternoon in East Providence.

“I told Lindsay that I didn’t care if McArthur hit the ball to Fall River. I didn’t want her to walk her because that would have brought the tying run to the plate,” said Ryan after his Lions notched their 40th straight win dating back to last season. “Basically, I just wanted to slow it down a little bit and give Lindsay the minute that she needs. She carried us once again.”

Mayer struck out 10 Bengals while her counterpart, Bay View’s Lexi Santurri, finished with seven punchouts. Ryan is very familiar with Santurri, having mentored her during the pitching clinics he organizes during the offseason.

Santurri took the mound with a 1-0 lead to work with after her teammates managed an unearned run off Mayer in the top of the first inning. The lead didn’t last long, as a single by Adriana Toro (2-for-3, run) gave way to a run-scoring double by Mayer. Emily Bouthillette followed with a two-bagger of her own, but wound up getting stranded.

The three runs the Lions got off Santurri in the second inning were the result of “smallball” according to Ryan. A suicide squeeze by junior Casie Beauchemin scored McKenzie Cavanaugh, who had reached via a bunt single. A sacrifice fly by Mayer made it 4-1 Lincoln. The home team’s bid for a four-run inning went by the boards after Bouthillette’s fly ball to center field resulted in a catch and McArthur throwing out a runner at home.

From the third inning on, Santurri and Mayer took turns trading goose eggs. Santurri retired eight straight at one point before Bouthillette lined a single with two down in the fifth inning. The top of the sixth saw Alexandria Rodi double with two down and Mayer issue a walk to Dakota Grenier. Bay View head coach Ken Moretti opted to send up a pinch hitter, though the move did little to sway Mayer as Emily Machado struck out on three pitches.

Lauren Hervieux was another Lion who finished with two hits, one of which came in the sixth inning as Santurri was confronted with a two-on, two-out jam. The junior left fielder also added a nice running catch on a shallow fly ball to end the third.

“Lately she’s come through with clutch hit after clutch hit,” noted Ryan.

Added Hervieux, “I just try to make contact and never look to kill it. I’m just up there to get hits.”

Including playoffs, the Lions have not scored more than five runs in any of their last five games. While Ryan would like to see his club provide Mayer with a little more breathing room, he’s also cognizant of Mayer’s ability to remain cool under tight circumstances.

“She’s been doing what she’s had to do,” said Ryan.

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