Courtney Hohenberger got her pitcher, Samantha Cusano, a game- tying hit in the seventh inning for her birthday on Friday.
Not a bad birthday gift, right?
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Well, Hohenberger was feeling extra generous. So, she got her another present. Hohenberger, an eighth-grader, crushed a two-out, go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth that propelled Smithtown East to a 13-7 win over host North Babylon in League II softball.
"She said the game was my present," said Cusano, who went 3-for-5 and turned 18. "I'm so proud of her. She should be on cloud nine."
Amanda Wroblewski's RBI slap bunt gave North Babylon a 6-2 lead in the fifth. Morgan Catalanotto -- daughter of former major league baseball player Frank -- led off the sixth with a double to the left-centerfield gap. She scored on a two-run triple by Gabby Colon that pulled Smithtown East within 6-4. Colon scored on an error to make it a one-run game.
Catalanotto, who went 3-for-5, hit a one-out double in the seventh to put the tying run on. Hohenberger then doubled to left, scoring Catalanotto. Savannah Coffelt followed with a single to give Smithtown East (12-5) a 7-6 lead.
"Being able to come back shows that we're a good team," Catalanotto said. "We work well together and know how to pick each other up."
But North Babylon (15-3), in contention for the league title, evened the score in the bottom of the inning. Nahtica Shepherd reached on an error, stole second, went to third on a Alexis Rutha's fly out and scored on Catherine Zucker's bunt single.
Eighth-inning singles by Nicole DePaola and Catherine Pederson put two on for Hohenberger. She then deposited the ball over the fence in left for the second home run of her career, giving the Bulls a 10-7 lead.
"I heard everyone cheer and I look up and it's over," Hohenberger said. "I was rounding second base and almost burst into tears."
Colon, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, singled in another run and Alex Loccisano added a two-run single to cap a two-out, six-run rally for a 13-7 advantage.
With two runners on in the bottom of the inning, Cusano induced a groundout to end the game. Soon after, her teammates sang her "Happy Birthday." "I couldn't ask for a better birthday," she said.
Thanks in part to Hohenberger, who plans on having all of her teammates sign the home run ball.
"We couldn't have won this game if we didn't work as a team," she said. "I feel if everybody signs the ball, it would symbolize us winning as a team."
Any chance she will give the ball to Cusano as one last birthday gift?
"The win is enough, I think," Hohenberger said with a laugh. "I'm going to keep the ball."