Santa Ana fell to Fullerton College after a tight pitcher’s duel that ended 2-1 on Friday, April 14.
With bases loaded and one out in the first, the Dons hoped to strike a powerful first blow. However, a well struck lineout and a groundout ended the inning with no damage.
“We have to be clutch. We have to find a way to score,” said manager Marissa Ross. “Breaking past that I’d love to see us score more runs.”
The game was a pitcher’s duel through the first four innings. Neither team scored a run while there were only a total of three hits between both sides.
Starting pitcher Ale Guzman had struck out two Fullerton batters through four with no walks. Guzman commanded the strike zone, allowing only one hit through the first five innings of work.
“I was really just trying to get them really far outside, because those seemed to work the best right now,” said Guzman. “And the spin was crazy, it was working today.”
Strong defense bolstered Guzman’s pitching performance. Guzman charged on a bunt attempt in the third and recovered cleanly before firing to first to end the inning. The Hornets stranded a runner at third.
In the fifth, center fielder Sierra Griego ran down a long fly ball in center field to save extra bases. Shortstrop Alyssa Armijo later knocked down a scorching line drive to end the inning.
“Defense is so important,” said sophomore first baseman Jojo Westerfield. “Each one of us is so talented so when we come together it’s great… Overall, I love our defense.”
Jayleena Perez struck a ball just over the head of the Fullerton shortstop in the fourth. It would have been a single, but Perez was called back to the plate due to the ball being ruled illegally batted. Perez would pop out on a bunt attempt the very next pitch.
Freshman Payton Samuels collected the first Santa Ana hit since the first inning, with a short single to left field in the fifth. She was advanced to second, by a sacrifice bunt from Guzman that froze as soon as it struck the ground in front of home plate.
Westerfield then smoked a double to the centerfield wall to score Samuels from second. The Dons took the first lead of the game, 1-0.
“My first two at-bats I wasn’t really swinging at the right pitches. My pitch selection wasn’t that good,” said Westerfield. “So, I was just focusing on swinging at my pitch, looking for my ball, being aggressive and keeping my shoulder down because there were gaps in the outfield that I was trying to hit and I did that. I stayed confident and it worked out.”
Though the Dons took the lead, their offense would remain silent for the rest of the game. Opening the door for a comeback.
Fullerton struck back the very next inning with four singles that scored two runs of their own to take a 2-1 lead.
Katie Neal was called on to pitch in relief of Guzman with two outs following the fourth Fullerton single of the inning. The first batter Neal faced flew out, stranding two baserunners.
The loss is Santa Ana’s sixth straight. Their record sits at 12-19 overall and an even 8-8 in the conference.
Santa Ana aims to be more aggressive going forward offensively.
“The more we put the ball in play, hard on the ground or line drives, the better off we do,” said Ross.
The Dons look ahead to Monday, April 17, where they’ll be facing a conference matchup against Saddleback College Bobcats. The game will be at home at two p.m.