Ports' game-winner leads MAU past Rutland
BENNINGTON -- Even after allowing a game-tying two-run double in the top of the seventh inning, Mount Anthony Union High School pitcher Baylee Ports was confident her team would ultimately get the upper hand.
So when the junior came up to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with a runner on second, it was her time to shine.
Ports rocketed the first pitch from Rutland's Payton Veilleux to deep right-center, scoring Kate Goodell as the winning run in a 6-5 extra-inning victory on Tuesday.
"My team's been out there for me the whole game, I knew this was my opportunity to do something for them," Ports said. "I really wanted to get that hit. It was a fastball, right down the middle and I turned on it."
To get to that point, however, Ports had to work out of trouble in the top of the eighth. After a groundout, Ports allowed three straight singles as Rutland loaded the bases with one out.
The next hitter, Veilleux, grounded to third and Makayla Farrara threw out the runner at home for the second out. Then Courtney Chase popped up an 0-2 pitch to Farrara as Ports got out of the jam.
"I think Baylee had an amazing game," said MAU coach Katie Contrada. "She had her control on the mound, and even though we didnt play the best in the field, she didn't get rattled, she still believed in her teammates behind her."
Then it was Mount Anthony's shot to win it in the bottom of the eighth. Leadoff hitter Kate Goodell started the frame with a single to left, then stole second to get into scoring position.
"Kate's a senior, a veteran and really fast," Contrada said. "We had a good shot, so I felt we might as well. Our strategy is to take chances, but it was a calculated chance. We know she can get there, you want your veteran shortshop on [base]."
Keira Goodell flew out to left for the first out, sending up Ports, who cracked the first pitch to right-center, easily scoring Kate Goodell and setting off a celebration.
"She's a total gamer, she showed up on the mound and at the plate," Contrada said.
Rutland took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Mount Anthony came back with two in the bottom of the second on singles by Kori Bow and Morgan Hewitt and a double from Kate Goodell. Hewitt was 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored from the No. 9 spot in the lineup.
"We've really focused on hitting this year, there's no holes in the lineup," Contrada said. "It doesn't matter where we are in the lineup. we're taking good cuts."
Both Goodell sisters had two hits, as did Ports, Bow and Hewitt. Farrara was 3-for-3 with a run scored.
Rutland took the lead again in the fourth on a two-run single from Veilleux, but MAU came back again with three runs of its own in the fifth, Julie Elwell starting the rally with a triple to center.
"Our team is really positive, if someone makes a mistake, just shake it off," Ports said. "We know we can do it, we try to keep our heads in the game."
In the seventh, Rutland's first two hitters singled to reach and Chase doubled down the left-field line to tie the game.
"We're trying to find an identity," said Rutland coach Dick Wright. "We have to be perfect and we made most of the plays and got some timely hits. Courtney's hit lifted us, I thought we bounced back very well."
Mount Anthony improves to 5-0 on the season.
"We're relieved to have won this, it's a big win, but a wake-up call for us," Ports said. "This will help us in the long run."
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