POULTNEY — With the state championship on the line in the seventh inning of Monday's Division I final against No. 1 Essex, Mount Anthony did exactly what they always do.
They battled with everything they had until the final out was made.
Down two, Mount Anthony got the tying run on base before Essex hurler Allie Rutz induced a grounder to second and finish a 4-2 win to give the Hornets their first title since 2012.
"They are gamers, I'm so proud of them fighting to the end, they never gave up," said MAU coach Katie Contrada. "Having kids with heart like that is all you can ask for as a coach."
The turning point came in the fifth inning with the game tied at 2-2. Rutz and Victoria Bean each singled to start the frame and then Sarah Knickerbocker grounded back to MAU pitcher Taylor Dicranian for the first out, moving Rutz and Bean into scoring position.
Jamie Morin came up and grounded back to the mound and DiCranian threw to first for the second out, but Rutz scored the go-ahead run to make it 3-2. On the play, first baseman Kaity O'Brien threw to third trying for the double play, but the throw was dropped and Bean was safe.
The next hitter, Makenna Thorne, appeared to strike out on a close pitch, but it was called a ball, and on the next pitch, she singled to drive in Bean for a 4-2 lead.
"There's always a little nervousness. We were confident coming in, we just had a couple of mistakes but that happens in every game," said senior Kori Bow. "We try to treat it like every other game, but when it comes down to it, it's not."
In the top of the sixth, Mount Anthony continued to be aggressive. Lauren Woodcock singled and took second on a misplay by the centerfielder. After DiCranian grounded back to the circle, moving Woodcock to third, Jamie Boyle grounded slowly to the shortshop.
The throw to first was true and as the throw was made, Woodcock headed toward the plate. The first baseman fired a seed to the catcher, who blocked the plate and Woodcock was out to end the inning.
"We pride ourselves on throwing and catching the ball. In a game like this, we knew they would try to steal a run when they can. Earlier, [Woodcock] took an extra base on [the centerfielder's misplay], so it wasn't surprising [that she went home]," said Essex coach Ashley Stebbins.
In the seventh, Cheyenne Guetti (who had two hits in the final), blooped a single to right with one out. Kaity O'Brien walked for the third time on the day to get the tying run on base. Kaidin Gauthier came up and saw eight pitches, fouling off some tough ones from Rutz before striking out. That sent up the freshman Worthington, who grounded out to end it.
"We were just trying to stay positive and get the fans going," said Bow, on deck with the final out was made. "Cat is an amazing player, a freshman and a star out there. I was hoping Cat would have hit a couple in and I don't know what I would have done up there, I was hoping to get a chance."
Mount Anthony looked like they would put up a bunch of runs early. O'Brien walked to lead off the game, then Gauthier reached on a Rutz error. Worthington came up and drove in a run with a sac fly to center for a 1-0 lead and then Bow grounded to short and the throw pulled the first baseman off the bag and scored Gauthier to make it 2-0.
Essex got one run back in the bottom of the first on a controversial call. Kylie Svarczkopf reached on an error and then Rutz doubled. Svarczkopf tried to score, but the throw beat her to the plate. According to the plate umpire, she sidestepped Boyle's tag to make it 2-1.
In the second, another error allowed Thorne to reach and after a single by Shannon Day, Thorne came home on an infield hit by Emily Harvey to tie the game at 2-2.
MAU had a runner in the fourth and two in the fifth, but couldn't bring any home.
"I thought we hit really well today. We talked about timing, but we left a lot of runners on," Contrada said. "We didn't get hits when we needed someone to step up and get a big one, we didn't put it past the infield. We couldn't string together a run of hits."
Mount Anthony finishes the season at 18-2 and the future is bright for the Patriots.
"Everyone except our own fans predicted that we wouldn't make it this far," Bow said. "We made Essex battle against us, this didn't come easy to them. They had to work hard, they just came out on top this time."