Elliott’s RBI grounder caps massive comeback for CT Polar Crush

By DN WRITING STAFF | April 21, 2024

Lyla Elliott makes contact on game-winning grounder to complete five-run comeback for Crush. 

By Sean Reilly

The Connecticut Polar Crush 14U was in a rough spot heading into the bottom of the sixth and final inning of its game against Finch’s Aces-Russo on Saturday afternoon at Diamond Nation. 

The Polar Crush was trailing by four runs, and had only one runner advance as far as third base through the first five innings in the opening game for both at the 14U Jennie Finch’s Spring Invitational. 

Even so, the team maintained its optimism, which leadoff batter Lyla Elliott could sense in the dugout as it headed into its last-chance inning. 

“We were still really energetic and excited,” she said. “We didn’t want to lose.” 

The Polar Crush mounted an improbable comeback, capped by an Elliott’s slow ground ball down the first base line with one out to score Selena Madrid with the winning run for a 5-4 victory in Flemington. 

Not only did the rally erase a 4-0 deficit, the victory also inspired the Polar Crush to finish the day with a 3-0 record, guaranteeing a high seed for the playoffs on Sunday which will involve all 20 teams in the field. 

The bottom of the sixth began with Polar Crush sending up batters 3, 4 and 5 in its order. Even so, it had been limited to four hits, all singles, to that point by two Finch’s Aces pitchers.

Ella Culbertson led off with a walk, and Bridget Nosal followed with an RBI triple that bounced to the fence in right-center field. A throw to third skipped past the base and into dead ball territory, allowing Nosal to score.

Keira McCord was up next, and she also sent a ball to the gap in right-center. She sprinted all the way around the bases for an inside-the-park home run and suddenly the Polar Crush was within 4-3, with nobody out.

Starter Hannah Jacobson pitched three scoreless innings for Finch’s Aces Russo.

The next two batters, Ella Moskites and Madrid, both singled to center field. Miskitos stole third, and after another pitch, Madrid stole second, to put the tying and winning runs in scoring position. 

The next batter struck out, but Gabby Russo (2-for-3) singled to third base, allowing the tying run to score. 

Russo stole second, with Madrid standing on third with the potential winning run as Elliott stepped to the plate. 

“I didn’t think it would come down to me,” she said. “I was thinking that I just had to protect the plate.” 

The count went to 2-2 when Elliott swung at the next pitch. The infield was playing in, but the ball was hit slow enough where the Aces had no chance of getting a sliding Madrid at the plate, as she scored ahead of the throw with the winning run. 

“I just knew I had to swing at it,” Elliott said. “It felt really good to win it.” 

Finch’s Aces had established its lead by scoring once in the top of the first and three times in the third. 

Abby Cianfrocca hit a stand-up triple to center with one out in the first, and scored when Chloe Jacobson lined a first-pitch single to center with two out. 

The third inning began with Hannah Jacobson being hit by a pitch and Cianfrocca reaching on a single to second base. The next two batters were retired, but Kaylee Rolph (3-for-3) hit an RBI single to left field for a 2-0 lead. Rolph took second on the throw, and with runners now on second and third, Riley Liskowacki drove in both with a single to left field. 

The Polar Crush followed the win by beating Long Island Thunder Black Premier, 12-0, and Rip City USA 13U, 9-1. 

Finch’s Aces Russo bounced back with wins in its two other games, beating Rip City USA 13U by a 12-0 score and blanking Long Island Thunder Black Premier, 14-0.

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