Rebecca Vilchez may have been thinking small, but she sure came up big.
"I always go up to the plate just thinking base hit," she said. "Because if you think big, you're not going to hit the ball."
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She not only hit the ball, but hit it a long way. Her second-inning home run off Sarah Cornell opened the scoring Friday and gave top-seeded Carey the boost it needed en route to a 6-0 win over second-seeded Clarke in Game 2 of the Nassau Class A finals.
"I went up thinking I'd get a base hit and start a rally," said Vilchez, who drove in two runs. "So I swung. She supplies the power, and I hit it hard."
Added Carey coach Anthony Turco: "That was the spark that we needed and then we were able to do a lot more of the things we wanted to do."
Jenna Turato tossed a four-hit shutout, walking none and striking out six for Carey, which forced a deciding Game 3 on Monday at 3 p.m. at Hofstra.
"I didn't want to give them anything because they build on the momentum," Turato said. "You give them one ounce of momentum and they'll take it far. I knew, and the team knew, that we couldn't give them anything today."
After the Seahawks' Game 1 loss, they came out more aggressive playing small ball, putting the ball in play, and forcing the Clarke defense to execute. It resulted in six errors.
Brianna Pinto, who went 3-for-4, led off the fifth with a single, stole second and third, and came home when the throw got away to give Carey a 2-0 lead in the fifth.
"We made them make more plays," said Pinto, who had two bunt singles. "It's a big advantage for me because I can use all aspects of my game to get on base. If I'm not hitting or she is throwing hard, bunting helps me get on base more."
Turato hit a grounder to second that wasn't fielded cleanly, allowing two more runs to score for a 4-0 lead. Ruth Rodriguez added an RBI single in the sixth and Vilchez capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly for Carey (21-3). Amanda Ulzheimer went 2-for-4.
Cornell allowed two earned runs, eight hits and one walk, while striking out seven over seven innings for Clarke (20-3).
Carey is now one win away for winning a second straight county championship. What do they have to do to get it?
"We have to keep the momentum going," Turato said, "and keep trying to do our best."
And keep thinking small.