Olague helps Rancho Alamitos earn share of title
GARDEN GROVE – Garden Grove senior pitcher Jasmine Antunez had a perfect game going into the top of the fourth inning Thursday. She had struck out six Rancho Alamitos batters in their first at-bat.
Then she allowed junior right fielder Mercedes Dozal to reach base with a blooper to shallow center. That was fine, she had room to spare, and the next batter was a freshman.
That might have appeared to be easy pickings, except the freshman, first baseman Emili Olague, crushed the ball so hard it shook the palm tree it smacked after clearing the fence in left-center field. Olague's homer scored the first two runs in Rancho's 4-1 victory over Garden Grove that forced a tie for first place in the Garden Grove League standings.
Rancho Alamitos (11-10) and Garden Grove (17-5) each have 7-1 league records with two league games left. If they both win their remaining league games a coin flip will determine which team gets the league's No. 1 berth for the playoffs.
A frustrated Antunez was careful with her words after the loss.
"All I have to say is that we beat ourselves this game and overlooked today," she said. "We'll see them again in CIF."
The Vaqueros' other two runs scored when Garden Grove's sophomore catcher, Jenavee Peres, tried to catch sophomore shortstop Sabrina Ramirez stealing third. The throw flew past third baseman Ashley Sutter and Ramirez and Dozal scored.
"(Peres) tried to show her arm off, and it didn't work," said Rancho Alamitos coach Tony Aguirre, whose team lost to Garden Grove, 6-1, on April 10. "And now we share the title. We get to hang another banner."
Antunez pitched all seven innings, allowing only five hits while striking out 11. She had a chance to rescue her team in the bottom of the seventh when she came to the plate with bases loaded and three runs down. Vaqueros junior pitcher Paulynn Mao said Antunez was the last batter she wanted to see in that situation.
"I was so stressed," Mao said. "I was going through the lineup and it got back to Jasmine. I was like, 'you got to be kidding me.' "
Antunez smashed some foul balls deep, but ultimately popped out to second, ending the Argonauts' comeback.
Senior second baseman Camden Orta had three hits and a walk for Garden Grove. Dozal went 2 for 3, including two runs scored for the Vaqueros.