SOFTBALL: College of the Desert takes the first of a three game playoff series, winning 8-4 Saturday versus host Santa Ana College.
Freshman first baseman Sabrina Perez wasn’t through with her record-breaking season, reaching another milestone by breaking a school record for most two-home run games.
Despite two home runs from Perez Saturday, the Dons lost 8-4 to visiting College of the Desert and faces a must-win game Sunday morning to stay alive in the California Community College Athletic Association Softball Southern Regional Championships.
Perez’s two home runs today tied a school record for home runs in a single game and is the second time she has accomplished the feat this season. She also hit two home runs and knocked in five RBIs in a 7-6 loss against visiting Saddleback College on March 13. Her total of 11 home runs sets a new school record for a single season and career.
Both teams couldn’t muster a run through three innings, and only two hits were allowed.
“It was a complete pitchers’ duel,” Roadrunners Head Coach Thomas Armstrong said.
Dons starter Devon Rodriguez hit a batter to load the bases in the fourth and was tagged for three runs. Desert scored two runs without hitting a ball out of the infield.
“We got a little rattled. There hadn’t been many base runners on all game. Then we had an error or two, and I hit a couple of batters. We added to the damage,” Rodriguez said.
Perez launched her first home run after freshman Danielle Hernandez worked a full-count walk, in the fourth. The rally ended with the No. 8 seeded Dons trailing 3-2, as the next three batters were retired.
Freshman right-hander Chantal Oelrich, perhaps the pitcher with the most velocity out of the Dons ‘pen, entered the game in relief of Rodriguez in the top of the fifth. Instead of keeping the game close, Oelrich surrendered back-to-back ground ball singles to the middle of the field.
With runners at first and second and no outs, Roadrunners freshman Danyelle Sturm hit a ground ball back to Oelrich, who could not control the ball before failing on a glove-flip attempt for a forced out at third, allowing the fourth run for No. 9 Desert.
“It was a do-or-die play,” Oerlrich said.
Janelle Eccles desposited a 3-1, up-and-in fastball that flew just over the left field fence for a three-run home run, which capped off a four-run blowout inning for Desert.
“She pitched my perfect pitch. It probably would have been a ball if I let it go, but it’s my perfect pitch,” Eccles said.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Perez crushed the first pitch from Desert starter Aylssa Fuimaono for a towering home run. Roadrunners center fielder Karina Romero took two steps back, gave up and watched the ball soar deep over the fence.
“I was studying my teammates’ at bats and looking at what she (Fuimaono) was trying to do. After that, all I can do is make sure I go to the plate with a clear mind and try to hit the ball hard,” Perez said.
But the Dons still trailed by three runs and the Roadrunners weren’t finished. In the top of the seventh inning, Sturm added an insurance run with a solo homer to left field.
“It was down the middle, so I swung and it happened to go over the fence,” Sturm said.
The Dons put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the seventh before Perez and Rodriguez were retired on fly balls that ended the game.
“We need the clutch hit with runners on base,” Dons Co-Head Coach Jessica Rapoza said.
Fuimaono threw a seven-inning complete game for the Roadrunners for the win. She allowed four runs, three earned on seven hits and three walks, while striking out three. Rodriguez took the loss after four innings of work. She allowed three earned runs on four hits, while striking out one. Oelrich threw three innings in relief, allowing five earned runs on six hits.
The two teams play game two of the series at noon tomorrow at Santa Ana College, and a second game, if necessary, is scheduled for 2 p.m.