No. 10 seed East Haven scored five runs on the top of the ninth inning on Friday afternoon then held on as No. 2 Lauralton Hall put together a furious comeback rally with four runs of its own, to take a 6-5 win over the Crusaders in a CIAC Class L quarter-final round softball match-up in Milford.

East Haven, with an 18-7 record, earned a third straight trip to the semifinals (two in Class M and one in Class L) and will take on No. 11 seed Nonnewaug Regional of Woodbury either on Monday or Tuesday at a site to be determined.

The Crusaders, who saw their season end at 20-5, took a 1-0 first-inning lead after lead-off hitter Jackie Brewster tripled to left-center and scored on Lindsay Spitz’s single to right.

Ireland Messieu held the Yellow Jackets at bay until the sixth, while allowing only two hits up until that time.

East Haven loaded the bases on three straight singles before Jessica Stettinger’s fly ball to center brought in a run.

The Yellow Jackets sent eight runners to the plate in the ninth.

A pair of singles, one by Stettinger and another by Brianna Carrano, both freshmen, put runners on first and second before Ali Esposito’s sacrifice-bunt attempt was thrown away allowing both runners to score.

Esposito went to second, eventually scoring on Julie SanGiovanni’s suicide squeeze bunt.

Allie Luzzi, who was hit by a pitch, and San Giovanni scored the fourth and fifth runs.

Down 6-1, the Crusaders scored a run on Christiana Cottrell’s fielder’s choice; another when Alex Moleski’s fly-ball to right was dropped, and on RBI singles by Erin McCann and Brewster.

But with the score 6-5, Alex Dawid’s fly-ball out to center ended the game.
“We knew coming in here and meeting them for the first time (Lauralton Hall moved over to the Southern Connecticut Conference this year) wouldn’t be easy,” said East Haven coach Ed Crisafi. “We needed to do all of the little things right today, and we did.

“We have a young team, but our veteran players have been in these situations before. They responded well to the pressure.”