Saturday’s Richard Pepe Tournament came down to pitching.
Host Schalmont had it. Schenectady and Mohonasen did, until earlier in the week.
Senior Lauren Mahar continued her strong senior season, giving up only two runs, striking out 25 and allowing just 10 hits over 14 innings as Schalmont beat Schenectady, 3-1, and followed with a 2-1 win over rival Mohonasen in the championship game.
“This was one of the goals this season, to win this tournament,” said Mahar, who was named the tourney MVP. “I also wanted to get coach his 50th win.”
The victory in the championship secured the second goal.
“I wasn’t even aware of it,” said Schalmont coach Eric Lybrand, who managed to evade the celebratory dousing when Mahar missed her target for one of the few times of the day. “It’s something the kids must have been keeping track of.”
Schalmont won the inaugural Pepe tourney in 2011, the year Lybrand succeeded Pepe and the second of Mahar’s five varsity seasons.
“She told me before the day started that we got the first one together, and she wanted to get our last one together,” Lybrand said. “Today was important for her. I asked her what she wanted, and she said. ‘Give me both.’ ”
Mahar gave up four hits and fanned 13 as Schalmont beat Schenectady in the opening round. Senior Alexis Harvey’s two-run single in the fifth inning broke a 1-1 tie.
Schenectady got a great effort out of Aleda Kirstein, who was pressed into service when senior Rachel Rose was lost for the season with a broken finger on her pitching hand.
“Aleda did a terrific job,” said Schenectady coach Kristy Mazzariello. “She’s involved in a school play, and she hadn’t pitched all week.”
Mohonasen coach Jeff Mattice also was without his ace, Maria Patterson. Morgan Redmond beat Coxsackie, 12-2, in the opening round, and left-hander Alyssa Sanborin turned in a solid effort in the final.
“You hate to lose your No. 1 pitcher, but it gives others a chance to pitch,” said Mattice. “Maria’s not going to be here forever.”
“I felt bad for Jeff, with no Maria. And I felt terrible for Kristy, without Rachel,” said Lybrand. “I saw Rachel over there, and she was smiling and everything, but you know she wanted to play.”
Mohonasen tested Mahar right away, as three of the first four hitters she faced singled, loading the bases with one out. Mahar got two strikeouts to end the inning, beginning a string of 15 consecutive hitters she’d retire.
Freshman shortstop Savanna Liverio gave 10-2 Schalmont the lead in the bottom of the first with an RBI single. Liverio had a pair of hits in both games, and was named to the all-tournament team.
Mohonasen catcher Amelia Izzo tied the game with a single in the sixth, but Mahar got her 11th strikeout of the game to end the inning, then retired Mohonasen in order in the seventh.
“I couldn’t believe the pop she was still getting in the sixth and seventh innings,” said Lybrand.
Sanborin and the Mohonasen defense did a good job of getting out of trouble in several innings after Schalmont had bunted a runner into scoring position.
“We can play small ball, and we did that today,” Lybrand said. “We practice bunting every day. We can manufacture runs. When the sticks aren’t working, we can go to small ball.”
“We’ve relied heavily on Lauren’s offense all year. She’s hitting around .600. Today, it was the young kids stepping up. Savanna really stepped up today.”
Coxsackie-Athens beat Schenectady in the third-place game.
Liverio, Patterson, Redmond and Schenectady catcher Sara DeFruscio joined Mahar on the all-tournament team.
SCHALMONT 3, SCHENECTADY 1
Schenectady 000 001 0 — 1 4 0
Schalmont 010 020 x — 3 11 1
Kirstein and DeFruscio; Mahar and Dillenbeck.
SCHALMONT 2, MOHONASEN 1
Mohonasen 000 001 0 — 1 6 2
Schalmont 100 010 x — 2 6 0
Sanborin and Izzo; Marar and Dillenbeck.