By ADAM SHINDER
Recorder Sports Staff
Jessica Gardinier's final game in the Amsterdam Girls Softball Association went about as perfectly as she could've hoped.
Gardinier drove in four runs at the plate and added eight strikeouts over four innings of work in the pitcher's circle as PAV rallied from a two-run deficit with nine unanswered runs down the stretch to notch a 13-6 victory over Mohawk Dairy in the AGSA 14-and-under division championship game Tuesday at Shuttleworth Park.
"It feels great, because this is gonna be my last year of rec," Gardinier said. "I'm really excited that we took the championship."
Gardinier got the start in the circle for PAV and allowed a run on a Sierra Grant RBI single in the first inning before giving way to Cinderae Chrzanowski for the next three innings. In that time, Mohawk Dairy used a five-run rally in the fourth inning to open up a 6-4 lead, but after PAV took the lead with a three-run surge in the fourth, Gardinier came back in and shut the door completely.
Over the final three innings, Gardinier held Mohawk Dairy with a hit, surrendered just three walks and recorded six of her eight strikeouts. That performance came one night after she turned in a similar late-innings performance in PAV's 8-7 semifinal win over Alden Equipment.
"She's lights out," said PAV coach Tony Bottisti. "The job she did last night in the playoff game to get us here was just unbelievable. Four innings, 12 strikeouts, zero hits and two walks. You can't ask for any more from her."
After falling down 6-4 through three innings, PAV calmly rallied to take the lead in the fourth with big contributions from the bottom half of its lineup. No. 9 hitter Abbey Logan tied the game with a two-run double, then Krissy Przybylo belted a double to deep left-center that brought home Logan with what turned out to be the winning run.
Two innings later, PAV erupted for six more runs to all but ice the championship -- a testament, Bottisti said, to the team's experience in close games throughout the season.
"They've never hit panic mode this year," he said. "Their backs have been up against the wall in more than half of the games they've played, and they've managed to pull three-quarters of the games out in the last couple innings. The pressure doesn't seem to affect these girls."
"Panicking loses games. I was really happy we held together as a team and pulled it out," Gardinier added.
The rally in the top of the sixth made things a little more comfortable for Gardinier when she went out to pitch the bottom of the sixth.
"We gave her some well-deserved breathing room," Bottisti said. "We're not used to being up. This is a very competitive league, the four teams we have in this 14U division are well-matched."
All that was left was for Gardinier to strike out Grant to close out the win and let the celebration begin.
"It was fantastic, especially because she's a really, really good hitter," Gardinier said. "I was really happy to strike her out."