When the East Greenwich and Pilgrim softball teams get together, the games always seem to be competitive from start to finish.
But they also always seem to have the same result.
And that held true on Friday, as the Pats struck first in their Division II winner’s bracket quarterfinal match-up with the Avengers before ultimately falling 5-1.
It was the third time this season that East Greenwich has knocked off Pilgrim, as the Pats lost 5-3 and 2-1 during the regular season to the top-seeded and defending state champion Avengers.
Once again, East Greenwich is the favorite this year, and once again Pilgrim has been perhaps its toughest opponent.
“This has been the toughest team we’ve faced in the last two years,” East Greenwich head coach Robert Petrucci said. “That’s a really good team.”
The loss dropped Pilgrim to the loser’s bracket, where it was scheduled to host No. 12 Exeter-West Greenwich on Monday, with the results unavailable at press time.
With a win in that game, the Pats would likely play today, against the winner of the match-up between North Smithfield and Tolman.
East Greenwich advanced to the winner’s bracket semifinal against Prout, with the date of that game still to be determined.
But the Pats weren’t discouraged after the game, despite another loss to a team that has given them fits over the past two seasons.
“These girls aren’t like that,” Pilgrim head coach Bill Aquilante said. “They don’t get down about things like this.”
Pilgrim was also still excited about the day before, when it hosted its first playoff game since 2005 and won its first playoff game since 2003.
Facing ninth-seeded Middletown in the single-elimination first round, the Pats rallied from 1-0 deficit in the sixth inning to score twice and hang on for the 2-1 win.
Carly Cabral got the win on the mound in what was a big moment for a softball program that hasn’t had a ton of recent success.
“We were hosting our first playoff game at Pilgrim in [seven] years,” Aquilante said. “It was a really nice moment for the girls.”
Cabral again took the mound on Friday, and her team staked her to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Katelyn Reph singled and came around three batters later on a single from Ellen McDonnell.
But the Avengers went 15-1 during the regular season for a reason, and they battled back.
Mollie Anderson singled to lead off the bottom of the first for East Greenwich, and she scored on a two-out single by Karen Lockhart to tie the score at one.
Two-out production was important all day for the Avengers, who scored four of their five runs with two down.
“We just hit all the way through the lineup,” Petrucci said. “It’s not just the first few hitters.”
And after scoring in the first, Pilgrim couldn’t find a way to match East Greenwich’s offensive output.
Anderson retired the final batter of the first, then the next six in a row before yielding a leadoff single in the fourth to McDonnell. She retired the next three batters after that, though, leaving the Pats with just the one run.
Cabral was stingy as well, but the Avengers continually came through with two outs. In the third, with two outs, Jacqueline DeFusco broke a string of six consecutive batters retired by Cabral with a double to left.
Lauren Duvall followed that with a single to give East Greenwich its first lead at 2-1.
In the fourth, Cabral again got two outs, this time sandwiched around a single from Sarah Gavin. Anderson then brought her home with a double to left to make it 3-1.
East Greenwich added an unearned run in the fifth and another run in the sixth – when Lockhart was hit with a pitch with two outs and the bases loaded – to give itself a four-run lead.
That was all Cabral would yield, though, as she gave up the four earned runs on nine hits, while striking out four.
“She pitched great in both games,” Aquilante said of Cabral. “We’ve put a lot of pressure on her this season.”
The Pats threatened in the top of the seventh, as Stephanie Johnson drew a leadoff walk and Danielle LeBlanc reached on a bunt single with two outs. But Anderson clamped down, striking out Katelyn Reph with the tying run in the on-deck circle to end the game.
On the day, Pilgrim managed just six hits.
“We all know how good Mollie is,” Petrucci said.
Now the Pats will try to get back to winning. They went 10-6 during the regular season, and will need to win six consecutive games to go the distance.