CLIFTON _ Not once, but twice, Par-Troy East's Rachel Volarich had to leg out her hits.
Volarich raced to first base and was deemed safe after beating out a groundball to third base. However, touching all three bases and home plate was even better when Volarich got an inside-the-park home run in the fourth inning.
PTE scored at a dizzying pace in its Little League state tournament opener, accumulating 16 hits in a 19-0 victory over Elmora at Main Memorial Park in Clifton on Thursday, July 16.
"I like running," said Volarich, PTE's third baseman. "It's fine. All I was doing was looking to take the next base."
Volarich's contributions to PTE's potent attack produced two RBIs. Her home run was one of two for PTE. Winning pitcher Tori Freire had the other, going 3 for 3 and knocking in three runs versus Elmora, a team from Elizabeth. Jenna Devens added three hits and drove in three runs.
Chloe Budd added a single - her first hit of the all-star season - in the third inning when she pinch hit for Arianna Urban.
According to Volarich, the No. 7 batter in PTE's order, the last time she hit a home run was April. Her home run against Elmora was a line-drive shot to the gap in right-center field. The ball hit the grass and kept going and going and so did Volarich.
"I thought maybe I had a chance to get home," Volarich said. "When I was halfway to second base, I definitely thought I could make it."
The homer pushed PTE's advantage to 17-0.
"Rachel needed that," said PTE manager Bob Devens of the home run. "She struck out the last time she was up."
PTE, anxious to play, got its bats going immediately, posting five runs in the first inning. Gabby Gennarelli and Lindsey DePetris each had a two-run double.
"We got the butterflies out of our stomachs," Bob Devens said. "The girls were itching to play and they're itching to play tomorrow. The girls came out to play. Many of them stayed to watch the second game."
The seven-run second inning featured Freire's homer, another well-placed line drive that just kept rolling once it hit the ground in left center field. Budd, Devens and Gennarelli also picked up and RBI each in the inning.
"We practiced every day, a lot of hitting and fielding," Volarich said. "We couldn't wait to play this game. We wanted to see what the other teams were like. I'm definitely surprised we won by so much. It feels good and make me more confident."
Freire went the first three innings for PTE, striking out four and giving up only two hits. Lil Vidal closed out the game, yielding only one hit in the fourth inning. Vidal struck out two.
On Friday, July 17, PTE will clash with the winner of Harrison Township/Robbinsville in a winners' bracket game at 8 p.m. at the same site.