BRISTOL, Conn.— Folks who came down from Maine to see its take on Connecticut’s champ on Monday night were offered a rare shaky performance.
Hermon committed seven errors, leading to 11 unearned runs as Maine was badgered by Connecticut’s champion from Fairfield 17-3 in a mercy-rule shortened game the New England regional tournament at Breen Field.
“The feeling in the cage and in practice this morning was different,” Hermon head coach Aaron Oakes said. “They kind of went through the motions today.”
Fairfield’s Alice Nelson was 3-for-4 with four runs scored as Connecticut improved to 3-0 for the tournament while Hermon slipped to 2-1..
“We weren’t used to getting hit like that,” Oakes said. “We weren’t sure how to adjust.”
Hermon only managed three hits in the game, as Fairfield pitcher Gabby Natoli struck out six. Natoli’s no-hitter was broken up in the bottom of the fourth inning when Alexis MacManus beat out an infield single.
MacManus reached all three times she came to the plate. Sydney Addessi and Abby Hartsgrove also recorded hits, Karli Theberge walked twice.
Maine pitcher Alessa Oakes scored a run for Hermon, but took the loss, allowing 16 runs— only six of which were earned— walking 11, while striking out six in 4 1/3 innings.
“Alessa had trouble finding the strike zone tonight,” said her father Aaron Oakes. “You’re going to have good nights and bad nights.”
Fairfield batted around twice in the game, scoring six in the second inning and nine in the top of the fifth, building a 17-0 advantage.
“Things happened fast,” Oakes said. “It’ll help us to grow.”
Maine had its best opportunity to rally in the second inning when, trailing 7-0, it loaded the bases behind walks by MacManus, Emily Perley and Kendra Bishop, with just one out.
But Natoli struck out Meagan Berry and MacKenzie Haskell to end the threat.
Hermon tallied its runs in the bottom of the fifth inning when, after a groundout, the next four Maine batters reached. Oakes reached on an error and scored on a wild pitch. After a pair of walks, Hailey Perry singled to right to drive in Addessi.
After a strike out, Bishop singled to center field, scoring Theberge, but Perry was thrown out at the plate to end the game.
Maine will play its final regional round robin game on Wednesday against Swanton, Vt. Hermon still has an opportunity to be the No. 1 seed in Thursday’s New England semifinal, but would have to beat Vermont and need a Fairfield loss to Cumberland, R.I. and still win the run differential between the three teams to be the top seed.
But Oakes preferred that his team could get a poor performance out of the way before perhaps seeing Fairfield again.
“We’ll grow,” Oakes said. “We know what to do when we get down 8 or 10 runs and have that in our minds and know what to do.”
Fairfield Conn. 160 19 — 17 7 2
Hermon 000 03 — 3 3 7
Gabriella Natoli (W, 1-0) and Alice Nelson; Hermon: Alessa Oakes (L, 1-1), Alexis MacManus (5) and Sydney Addessi.