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Softball: Esposito clears fence; Clippers avoid mercy rule

Southold:Greenport softball player Hannah Sutton 050516

Toni Esposito just might want to thank her Southold/Greenport teammates for avoiding the mercy rule being invoked and extending their high school softball game to seven innings on Thursday.

If the Clippers hadn’t, the junior center fielder would not have clubbed her first home run that cleared the fence in their 12-4 Suffolk County League VII loss. Esposito’s other homer this season was that of the inside-the-park variety.

Under the mercy rule, if a team is leading by 12 or more runs after five innings, the game is awarded to that side.

Babylon (15-2, 15-2) was trying to make Southold (5-11, 5-11) its 13th mercy victim of the season, but the Clippers fought to avoid it as they did earlier this season in a 10-2 loss on April 5. Southampton also played a full seven innings against Babylon in a 12-3 defeat on March 23. The Clippers also became only the third team to have scored four or more runs against the defending Long Island Class B champions this year.

The Panthers had a run in, a runner at first and an 11-1 lead in the top of the fifth, but pitcher Ashley Hilary induced pinch hitter Amy Baldwin to ground out to third to end the inning. Hilary did not give up a run in the sixth and seventh innings.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Clippers broke through with three runs. Hannah Sutton led off with a triple and scored on a groundout by Sam Baldwin. Baldwin then came around on Esposito’s drive over the fence to dead center.

Esposito wasn’t the only player to drill a homer to center.

Babylon right fielder Grace Malley’s three-run blast highlighted a five-run first inning. Malley went 3 for 5 with six runs batted in. Molly Cummings was 3 for 4, with two doubles, three runs and one RBI.

The Panthers added a run in the third, five in the fourth and another in the fifth. The Clippers scored their first run on four errors in the fourth.

Photo caption: Southold/Greenport third baseman Hannah Sutton runs down a bunt before throwing the runner out. (Credit: Robert O’Rourk)