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Stallings keeps Trabuco Hills' playoff hopes alive
LAS FLORES – Danielle Stallings was not having the greatest of days at the plate.
For the record, in her first five at-bats the Trabuco Hills sophomore popped out three times, grounded out and struck out.
But nobody will remember those first at-bats, because everybody will remember her last.
In the 11th inning of a 4-4 tied game, Stallings ripped the first pitch she saw over second baseman Kiana Cisneros to drive in Rosie Bradburn with the game-winning run and lift the Mustangs to a 5-4 victory over Tesoro in a nearly 21/2-hour Sea View League game Monday at Tesoro High.
“She got the hit when we needed it,” said Mustangs coach Jason McGee.
The victory ended Trabuco Hills’ season with a 13-14 overall record, but more importantly the win kept the Mustangs’ CIF-Southern Section playoff hopes alive as they improved to 4-4 in league play. They would need some help as they trail now third-place Tesoro by a half game, and second-place San Clemente by two.
Tesoro (12-10-1, 4-3), with a victory, would’ve clinched its eighth consecutive playoff appearance, but now must win Wednesday over fifth-place San Juan Hills to seal a berth in the postseason. A loss Wednesday, and Tesoro will likely play Trabuco Hills in a one-game playoff to decide which team will receive the third and last automatic playoff berth.
“I don’t even want to think about that,” said Tesoro coach Donn Munsell. “We want to win Wednesday.”
Tesoro certainly had its chances to win on Monday. In three of the game’s last six innings, the Titans advanced a baserunner to third base, only to leave her stranded each time.
“They hit in the clutch, and we didn’t. Give them credit,” said Munsell.
Tesoro was also done in by stellar defense by Trabuco Hills centerfielder Kaely McLaughlin and leftfielder Samantha Ontiveros. With a runner on second and one out in the tenth, McLaughlin made a reaching over-the-shoulder grab to rob Tesoro leadoff hitter Danielle Fettis. The next batter, Drew Moore, then blasted a shot to the leftfield corner, where Ontiveros caught the ball leaning on the outfield fence.
The plays sparked the Mustangs as they tallied the game-winner on its next at-bat. After an out, Bradburn blooped a single to centerfield and advanced to second on a groundout before Stallings’ game-winning hit.
“I don’t remember the pitch. I just saw it and hit it,” said Stallings.
Trabuco Hills never trailed in the game, scoring two runs by Delanie Uhl and Emily Hall in the first without the help of a single base hit. Two Titans errors, a walk and hit batsman led to the two-run rally.
“We booted the ball all over the place today,” said Munsell, noting the club’s four errors.
Mustangs starting pitcher Meghan Mondragon was superb early on, retiring nine of the Titans’ first 10 batters. She got our of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, but the Titans scraped a run off her in the fifth on a two-out RBI single by Cisneros.
Trabuco Hills added to its lead in the seventh on a two-run double by Hal, who finished with three hitsl.
Tesoro rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the seventh, two coming on a two-run triple by Cisneros. Senior starting pitcher Kalee Smith then knotted the score with an RBI single. Another single by Taylor Lavin chased Mondragon.
Sophomore reliever Makenna Martin retired the final two batters, and worked her way out of trouble in the final innings to earn the victory. Martin allowed just five hits and struck out two in the final 41/3 innings
“I knew we could cause them trouble if we beat them,” said McGee. “I’m really proud of the way the girls played today.”
Smith pitched well enough to win, allowing just two earned runs while striking out three in 11 innings of work.
Tesoro had four batters — Cisneros, Moore, Smith and Lauren Steffo — who had two hits.
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