Dyonne Vargas was told to be ready to pitch. So between innings the Buhach Colony left-hander warmed up behind the Thunder dugout.
Vargas got the call and pitched out of a jam in the fourth inning. She then made an impact in the game with her bat with a two-run double and a sacrifice fly to help the Thunder earn a big 7-6 win over Pitman on Tuesday afternoon to clinch second place in the Central California Conference and a home playoff game.
“This was a very big game,” Vargas said. “We wanted that home playoff game like last year. We needed a win, especially with this being our last home game.”
The start was a carbon copy of the Thunder’s first two matchups with Pitman (12-12, 7-6 CCC), with the Pride jumping out in front 3-0 early. The first two games went extra innings.
Alexis Mettler doubled in a run and Nicole Bailey hit a sacrifice fly to give Pitman a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Sally Acosta drove in a run with a single in the fourth to extend the lead to 3-0.
“I guess it’s just something about them,” Pitman coach Joe Lewis said. “That’s the third time we’ve had a three-run lead and they keep battling back. We made a few mental mistakes and it finally caught up to us.”
Pitman left 12 runners on base.
Buhach Colony finally got its bats going in the bottom of the fourth inning. Mary Castillo and Sabrina Alvarado led off the inning with back-to-back singles off Pitman starter Mettler. Vargas then followed with a line drive off the fence in left-center field for a two-run double. Vargas was thrown out trying to advance to third base.
“I was glad I just hit the ball,” Vargas said. “I haven’t been swinging the bat well. I’m finally starting to make good contact.”
Pitman turned to reliever Acosta in the fifth inning, but the Thunder bats stayed hot. With one out, Ali Clarot singled and Castillo doubled to put two runners in scoring position.
Alvarado then hit a grounder to shortstop. Pitman’s Sklyar Taylor fired home, but Clarot’s slide across the plate beat the throw to tie the game at 3-3. Vargas then hit another deep fly to drive in Castillo to give the Thunder (13-6, 9-4) a 4-3 lead.
Buhach Colony tacked on three big insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth with the help of a two-run double by Castillo, who went 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs.
“At least this time we didn’t have to play more than seven innings against them,” said Buhach Colony coach Becky Gibson. “Again, Pitman is a good team. We’re pretty evenly matched so when we play each other it’s going to be a good game. Our bats finally came alive around the fourth inning.”
The Pride made the Thunder sweat in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs to cut the lead to 7-6. However, Mettler was caught in a rundown between third and home for the final out after rounding third base too far on Acosta’s single.
“She got caught off the base a little too far,” Lewis said. “She was being aggressive and we teach our girls to be aggressive.”
•Merced 10, Turlock 0
in Turlock – Madilyn Nickles hit two home runs and drove in three runs at the plate and pitched a one-hit shutout in the circle to help the Bears remain unbeaten in the CCC at 13-0. Chelsea Evans added a solo homer and Ruby Quiralte had three hits for Merced.
•Atwater 6, Golden Valley 1
in Atwater – Gracie Santistevan pitched a one-hitter for the Falcons. Unique Espinoza had a pair of hits and two RBIs for Atwater (7-6 CCC).