ROXBURY _ As a freshman pinch runner, Bri Segnello used her speed and daring to score from first base on Annalee Smith's two-out RBI double in the eighth inning and send Mount Olive to a win over Randolph in a 2018 Morris County Tournament semifinal.
On May 9, Segnello, now the starting center fielder, was once again a critical part of the game-winning run, belting a double to right-center field to snap a 2-2 deadlock in the bottom of the seventh inning and boost the sixth-seeded Marauders over seventh-seeded Parsippany, 3-2, in an MCT semi.
Morris Knolls, the top seed, defeated No. 12 Mendham 9-3 spurred by a six-run offensive burst in the fourth inning of the second semifinal at Landing Park. Kayla Turcios, the winning pitcher, had two RBIs, one off a solo home run, to key the big inning. After giving up two runs in the first inning, Turcios settled in, yielding four hits and striking out four.
"I was trying to hit the ball in the gap. Just hit it as hard as I could," said Segnello, whose two-base hit came off a 2-1 pitch. "I wanted to hit it somewhere, anywhere, so Kaitlin (Pettenger) could score."
Segnello, Mount Olive's No. 5 batter, obviously loves competing as evidenced by the fact that she also plays basketball and field hockey. That's why she was unfazed by being up with one out and the game on the line in the lower half of the seventh inning. Segnello was hit by a pitch her first time up then walked. She hit into a double play in the fifth inning. That, of course, didn't sit well with her.
"Bri can definitely hit," Marauders coach Bill Romano said. "That's a tough spot to be in. Parsippany wasn't going to quit. They weren't going to back down."
Kaitlin Pettenger got a base hit to open the seventh for Mount Olive, which fell to Hanover Park in last year's MCT title game. Pettenger raced to second when the next batter struck out.
Mount Olive (13-5) scored the game’s first run in the second inning on Lindsey Walter's bunt. Segnello, who was hit in the foot by a pitch to start the inning, slid into home plate in a very close play.
Parsippany went ahead, 2-1, in the top of the fifth on Julia Vincent’s groundout and a miscue. Arianna Urban's double and Lindsey Depetris' single gave the Red Hawks two runners with no outs. A strikeout ensued before Vincent stepped into the batter's box.
Anna Callahan’s two-out RBI triple to right field knotted the score, 2-2, for the Marauders in the fifth inning. The extra base hit followed a 2-3-2 double play by Parsippany in which Red Hawks catcher Michelle Ebel fielded Segnello's bunt with runners on second and third. Ebel fired to first to Gabby Gennarelli and Gennarelli threw home to get Kaitlin Pettenger on a head-first slide.
"That was a great play by them," said Romano, referring to the double play. "We were just trying to get a run in there and it didn't work."
Segnello said she was "disappointed but tried to be positive."
Callahan, a junior righthander, turned in a strong effort in the circle, striking out eight and walking one in her MCT semifinals debut. Callahan allowed five hits, two to Depetris. She struck out the side in order in the first inning and retired 11 of the first 12 batters before walking Parsippany cleanup hitter Jenna Devens with two outs in the fourth inning.
For part of the season, Callahan was splitting the pitching duties with Walter but became the ace several weeks ago. Last spring, Callahan was the first baseman and third-string pitcher.
"I was a little nervous going in," Callahan said. "My warmup was good. I got on the hill and did my part. I contributed. Winning tonight was a blessing. It was the best thing ever."
Her game-tying triple surprised her. Callahan indicated that she "gets the bat on the ball and makes contact."
"My batting average isn't the greatest," Callahan said. "I'm not all over the bases. I try to move runners."
Morris Knolls (19-3) used back-to-back-to-back extra base hits to score three runs in the third in the second game. With one out, No. 9 batter Mary Griffin doubled to right center on a full-count offering. Skye Eppel doubled off a first pitch to drive in a run. Maddison Perna then tripled off the fence for the second run. A throwing error produced the run to give the Golden Eagles a 3-2 edge.
The next inning, Morris Knolls’ bats continued to boom and it added six runs. Eleven batters went to the plate, with Turcios slugging her solo homer and driving in a run with a single up the middle. Griffin knocked in the second of the six runs. Jess Arminio had an RBI. Errors by Mendham accounted for the other runs.
Griffin, typically the flex, has been hitting for the last few games and coming through.
"I really don't hit a lot," Griffin said, shaking her head. "I'm on top of the world. The double was great. It felt amazing."
Golden Eagles coach Keith Heinemann said he was "super happy" for Griffin, noting that "she got us started and created momentum for us."
Mendham used three hits, one an RBI base hit by Grace O'Mahoney, to gain a 2-0 edge in its first at-bat.
"With one out and the bases loaded, our pitcher may have been a little nervous," Heinemann said. "It may have gotten to her and she wasn't hitting her spots."
Griffin is thrilled to be in the MCT final as is Heinemann.
"We were down at first and we picked ourselves up," Griffin said. "Being in the final is amazing. I'm actually playing after being on the bench. I'm speechless."
"The MCT is always one of our goals," Heinemann said. "This is redemption for last year's MCT when we were knocked out in the preliminary round by West Morris. Getting back is great for us."
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