Hericanes catcher Kadi Holt applies tag after taking throw from first base to complete double play.
By Sean Reilly
Hannah Jacobson knew exactly who she was pitching against when her Finch’s Aces 14U-Russo team lined up against Hericanes Red on Sunday afternoon at Diamond Nation.
The matchup, in the quarterfinals of the Finch’s Aces 14U Fall Invitational, was between teams who’ve met twice in the past, with the Hericanes winning each time by one run in extra innings.
This time, the Hericanes went into the game unbeaten in four weekend games at ‘The Nation,’ and as the top seed in the playoffs. The Aces were 3-1 and seeded ninth.
“We’ve played them in close games and hadn’t beaten them,” Jacobson said.
This meeting was different. Jacobson pitched a two-hitter, with nine strikeouts and two walks, as Finch’s Aces-Russo notched a 2-1 victory in Flemington.
The Aces scored runs in the first and fifth innings, and a pickoff at first base and crucial double play limited the Hericanes to one run in the bottom of the fifth.
Addie Louderback barrels it up for Finch’s Aces 14U-Russo.
The Aces first run came after Nadia Harris hit a triple to right-center field with one out in the opening inning, with Ava Figalora following with a sacrifice fly to center field.
“That set the mood for the rest of the game,” Jacobson said. “It was helpful because everyone had more energy after that.”
The Aces extended their lead to 2-0 in a fifth inning that began with Abby Cianfrocca hitting a double to left center.
After a pitching change by the Hericanes, Sage Canavan was safe on an error, with Cianfrocca holding at second.
A ground ball resulted in a force out at second, placing runners on first and third with one out. Riley Liskowacki then hit a single to shortstop that scored Cianfrocca for a 2-0 lead.
Jacobson took a string of 10 straight retired batters into the bottom of the fifth, but the frame began with both of her walks, to Emma Rosario and Autumn Gove.
The first pivotal defensive play of the inning was made by Aces catcher Chloe Jacobson, who picked off the trail runner at first base.
Shannon Nordone followed with an RBI double to left center that cut the Hericanes’ deficit to a run. Peyton Conti was up next, and was safe on a dropped fly ball.
That play left runners on first and second, and Elaina Byrne hit a hard ground ball that was handled by Aces’ third baseman Morgan Penna, who stepped on third and threw over to first in time for an inning-ending double play.
“That was huge,” Jacobson said. “That was really nice. That was really good to get out of that inning. If we didn’t, we might have lost. There were a lot of ups and downs in that inning, but we got out of it.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Jacobson closed out the win by getting a strikeout, pop out to second, and a strikeout.
Hannah Jacobson delivers pitch for Finch’s Aces 14U-Russo.
“My screwball and high fastball were working well,” she said.
A key to her strong outing was getting ahead on counts and handling the top of the Hericanes lineup. The first four batters were a combined 1-for-11, with six strikeouts. The leadoff batter struck out in all three of her at-bats.
“That was really big,” Jacobson said. “We’ve played against them multiple times, and that was the first time I struck out their No. 1 batter, so that felt good.”
Finch’s Aces-14U Russo began Sunday with an 8-7 playoff win over East Coast Tsunami 14U Blue. The Aces’ playoff run ended later in the afternoon with a third-straight one-run game, this time falling, 2-1, to Empire State Huskies-Porcelli.
The fourth-seeded Empire State Huskies-Porcelli (6-0-1) ended the weekend as tournament champions after posting a 1-0 win over PA Chaos 2K10 in the final.