Bulldogs bounce back from loss to stay alive in elimination bracket with win over Sierra
WALNUT – The road to consecutive state championships for College of San Mateo became more difficult, but is still in reach.
After the North No. 2-seeded Bulldogs suffered a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to South No. 1 Palomar College, CSM fought off elimination by sending home North No. 1 Sierra College with a 6-5 triumph that lasted nine innings.
But the Bulldogs will live to play another day as they will face either South No. 2 Mt. San Antonio College or South No. 3 Cypress College in another elimination game on Saturday at 3 p.m.
After an impressive pitching performance by Lia Evans in Friday's state championship opener, freshman Siona Halwani nearly matched it. Halwani held a potent Palomar offense under control for most of the contest, taking a 1-0 shutout into the bottom of the seventh inning.
But a lead-off double by the Comets, followed by a walk and a pair of CSM errors allowed Palomar to complete the comeback for the walk-off win.
Earlier in the top of the sixth, Mariah Norris' two-out, infield single allowed Leila Velasquez to score all the way from second base to give CSM a late 1-0 advantage.
Now in the elimination bracket, the Bulldogs were forced to return to the field just moments later to play for the right to remain in the state tournament.
After a pair of scoreless innings, CSM found itself trailing after Sierra rallied for two runs. Another costly error led to an unearned run off Evans, who started the contest in the circle for the Bulldogs.
But San Mateo came right back in the bottom of the frame to jump out in front. Consecutive singles by Vanessa Lang and Lafulafu Malepeai as well as a walk by Norris loaded up the bases for the Bulldogs. Head coach Nicole Quigley-Borg went to her bench and the decision paid off. Pinch hitter Megan Barstad smacked a bases-clearing double to the left field gap to give CSM a 3-2 lead.
A solo home run by Maddy Redinger in the fifth tied up the contest before CSM put up two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Luda Gumataotao delivered an RBI-double and Gabrielle Perez drove her in with a single.
Sierra once again rallied to tie up the ball game, scoring twice in the sixth, and eventually sent the contest into extra innings.
Finally in the ninth, Lang lined a one-out single which was followed by a base hit from Malepeai that moved Lang to third. Still with one out and a 2-2 count, Norris laid down a suicide squeeze bunt that brough home Lang with the game-winning run. Norris ended the day a combined 4 for 6 for CSM with a pair of big RBI.
Malepeai was held hitless in the Palomar loss but bounced back with a big game against Sierra. She went 4 for 5 to move her batting average to an even .500 on the season while scoring a pair of runs.
Halwani picked up the win in relief, going the final four innings while allowing two runs and three hits.
San Mateo, now 39-8 overall, will need two wins on Saturday to advance to Sunday's state tournament finals.
Postgame with @csm_bulldogs Mariah Norris, game-winning RBI pic.twitter.com/Vd8CGttYyd— 3CFCA (@3CFCA) May 20, 2023