SAN JOSE, CA – After splitting a pair of games in Monterey Bay – Gabilan League action, top-seeded Gilroy won the rubber match with San Benito when it counted most with an exciting 4-3 victory in the CIF Central Coast Section Division I title game on Saturday at the PAL facility in San Jose.
With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth the bottom half of the batting order got it done for the second time when No. 6 hitter and freshman Lauryn Yslava doubled to open the inning and was driven in on an RBI single by fellow freshman Kaitlyn Martinez.
Junior Gianna Vanni gave up a one out single in the top of the seventh, but after a sacrifice got the runner to second the Mustangs pitcher got a popup to second to end the game.
It was the third CCS title for Gilroy with the last coming in 2013 when they upset an undefeated nationally-ranked Archbishop Mitty team in the second round of their Division II title run.
Gilroy (19-9-1) pretty much ran roughshod over the D1 field first blanking Independence 10-0 and beating Los Altos 10-2, and then getting a slight test in a 7-3 semifinal win over North Salinas.
In San Benito (17-14) the girls from garlic town were seeing an arch rival team that had a bit of checkered record entering the playoffs, but with 10 CIFCCS titles they know how to win the big games. Even as the No. 15 seed they first got past second-seeded Santa Clara in a 2-0 squeaker, blew out No. 10 seed Christopher 8-0, and then in the semifinals against upstart eleventh-seeded San Mateo they got two straight shutouts in a 5-0 victory.
“We knew this game would have a lot of emotion against our rivals and the girls made some mistakes,” Gilroy Coach Bria DeLorenzo said. “But it’s a testament to our team culture knowing that they have each other’s backs.”
After a scoreless first inning Gilroy went to work in the second and it was the bottom half of the order that won the game that also produced the Mustangs first three runs. Not surprisingly it was Vanni with the big bat.
Freshman Malia Mah reached on a fielder’s choice, advanced to second on a single by Lauryn Yslava, and scored on a triple by Vanni. Her courtesy runner Jasmine Stavrum then scored on an RBI single by freshman Hoeptner.
Besides pitching out of a number of jams where she was bailed out by three double plays, Vanni escaped with an eight-hitter and all three San Benito runs came in a fourth inning that could have been even worse had not the Mustangs turned the third double play. Vanni was also 2-for-3 at the plate with the triple and two RBI and the run scored by courtesy runner Starum.
Dominique Monteon led off the fourth for San Benito with a frozen rope-like double but got doubled up when Amber Rodriguez hit one just as hard as her but right at second base girl Vanessa Zozaya who stepped on second to record the double play. Madison Greco followed with a triple and scored on a base hit by Noel Chavarria.
After an error put Chloe Cortez on to give the Haybalers runners at first and second, a passed ball advanced them. Julia Woeste then hit a grounder that was booted allowing Chavarria to score but when Woeste looked like she might go to second, catcher Makenna Whyler fired to shortstop Annabelle Gutierrez who was covering second. At that point Cortez broke for the plate and beat the throw to score, but Woeste was thrown out on the base path to end the inning.
From that point Vanni gave up a single in each of the last three innings but with the help of her defense was able to pitch her way out of the jams each time.
“I stayed relaxed and the whole team stayed relaxed,” Vanni said. “Three to three is like nothing to nothing so we just kept pushing.”
And what about winning a CCS title and doing it against your arch rivals?
“I’m honestly speechless,” Vanni responded. “It's an amazing feeling and I’m thrilled to win it with this team.”
Daughter sweeps father to claim Division II crown
The 10:00 a.m. game had a bit of a twist to it as no matter who won the winning coach was going to have a last name of Pingree, either James Pingree of No. 5 seed Carmel, or Alex Pingree of second-seeded Santa Catalina-Monterey.
Carmel came into the game off an 11-inning 6-3 victory over top-seeded Hillsdale and Santa Catalina also took out its opponent from the PAL – Bay with an 11-4 win over Half Moon Bay.
It was a tight game all the way with Santa Catalina clinging to a 1-0 lead through five innings, but they got two insurance runs in the top of the sixth and after giving up a leadoff single in the seventh, freshman pitcher Emma James got two comebackers and a grounder to second and the Cougars were Division II champions for a second CCS title.
The twist portion is not only did it give Alex Pingree a win over her father in a title-game victory, it was the fourth time this season she has taken down the man she played and pitched for when Santa Catalina beat Soquel for the 2012 CCS Division III championship.
“Yes she does but I’m okay with it,” said a smiling elder Pingree when it was suggested his daughter had his number this season after his Padres girls won the two games last year in her first year at the Santa Catalina helm.
“They played well, they’re well coached, and their pitcher did a good job. They’re the better team,” continued Carmel’s Pingree.
James, who is not overpowering and lets her defense make the plays behind her, only struck out one, but she scattered four singles and only walked one to record the shutout.
Santa Catalina (21-1) got all the runs it would need in the first inning against Carmel pitcher Jessica Pavlov.
Junior Emily Radner got a one out walk, went to second when the lone senior on the 14-girl roster, Katie Fraley, was hit by a pitch, and after a single by sophomore Abby Gunter advanced both runners, Radner scored on an error to give Santa Catalina a 1-0 lead
The Cougars added two more runs in the second when freshman Makenna Zedaker got a one out single and went to second on a single by sophomore Jessica Clements. Zedaker scored on an RBI single by Radner that advanced Clements to third. After a walk to Gunter, Clements scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Fraley.
The speedy Gunter closed out the scoring in the sixth with an inside the park home run that also drove in Clements, who had a one out single.
“Yes, I guess I do have his number this season,” Alex Pingree said.
“I learned from him my whole life and playing for him was one of the greatest thrills I’ve had in my life,” continued the younger Pingree. To win a title against him is phenomenal. It’s a gift to the program for a great group of girls.
That’s a group of Santa Catalina girls that returns 13 players and should be vying for a title once again next season.