By Dan Harrington
The Rams home finale April 16 against Chabot College featured great defense and crafty pitching from start to finish. City’s 4-3 win required a comeback from the biggest deficit of the warm afternoon, and the Rams did it in stunning fashion.
Rams pitcher Alexis Cortez and her counterpart, Katie Burdick of Chabot, kept hitters off balance most of the afternoon. It appeared Burdick might get the better of the day, after driving in the game’s first run and scoring the Gladiators’ second run in the third inning that left City trailing 2-0.
The Rams responded in the bottom of the frame when Cortez walked, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by sophomore second baseman Lauren Duff.
Duff tried to take home on a would-be wild pitch and came within a foot of tying the game with one out in the sixth after a leadoff triple.
Chabot catcher Veronica Knowlton snared the rebound from the backstop and pounced on the approaching Duff. The crowd reacted to the crunching sounds of impact at the plate, but both players got up with no apparent physical injuries.
Duff was out. Teammate Jesyka Eredia lined a single up the middle on the next pitch, but ended up stranded on a groundout that ended the inning.
City went into the seventh and final inning down 2-1.
Chabot added a run and had the bases loaded with two outs in the seventh. City third baseman Jamie Hom made a superlative snare of a Vanessa Felix smash and got the force out at third ending the top half of the inning.
The Rams needed two runs just to tie with only three outs remaining, which appeared daunting, as Chabot had limited the Rams to only one run and five hits on the day.
Without warning, the Rams would not make another out. They sent five players up and all five got on base.
Catcher Kaitlin Blando started the City College seventh with a double to left and moved to third on a passed ball. Alishia Beatty walked on the seventh pitch she saw, including several foul balls, then stole second base.
Blando and Beatty scored when designated player Bianca Pineda powered a pitch down the right field line. She stopped at first with a game-tying single, and was replaced by the more speedy flex player, right fielder Salam Mashal.
Players and coaches gave Pineda a hero’s welcome at the Rams’ dugout, but the deal was not complete for the home team.
Maribelle Dela Merced followed with a bunt that lingered on the first base line, with a perplexed Burdick picking it up too late to make a play. Dela Merced was safe and Mashal moved into scoring position at second base.
Then Cortez, the Rams pitcher and first hitter of the day, looked to win the game with one more hit.
Burdick got strike one, then strike two, but not three.
Cortez belted a two-hopper to left.
Gladiators left fielder Tyler Jones gathered the ball on an awkward bounce, but her throw home was late, allowing Mashal to score the Rams winning run.