Through four innings, the rivalry game between San Benito and Gilroy on Thursday was scoreless, but hardly lacked in offensive chances.
Both teams knocked on the scoring door early, and finally, in the fifth inning, the Balers broke through with the big hit off the bat of freshman Adrianna Ibarra.
The designated hitter drilled a 0-2 pitch over the head of Gilroy left fielder Vanessa Tellez for a double to break the scoreless tie in an eventual 5-1 San Benito victory over the Mustangs in Hollister.
“That was a great piece of hitting,” San Benito manager Scott Smith said.
“I knew she would have a good chance of doing that. The left fielder was playing in and the pitcher was getting the ball up. She just needed to make contact.”
It is the 18th straight win for the Balers over the Mustangs – a streak that includes three victories in Central Coast Section championship contests. The latest of which came last season on a walk-off hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.
On Thursday, The Mustangs loaded the bases twice in the game’s first three innings, but could never get that run-producing hit.
And the Balers, who’ve averaged more than eight runs per game in the season’s first month, loaded the bases with no outs – against freshman pitcher Lauren Castro – but didn’t score in the second.
“We had a ton of good chances,” Gilroy manager Julie Berggren said.
“It was exciting to have those chances early in the game. So did they. But we couldn’t score.”
For the Balers, the Ibarra two-out, two-RBI double was much needed.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to drive and I got it,” Ibarra said. “But I know, if I didn’t get the hit someone else would have.”
Through the game’s first four innings, Castro kept Baler hitters in the infield.
The Balers hit six singles – three coming in the second – but couldn’t get a runner past third base in the early stages.
“We just didn’t play very well today – taking nothing away from Gilroy,” Smith said. “This was the worst game we’ve played all year.”
San Benito starter Megan Sabbatini struggled to throw strikes – walking four in seven innings – and allowed five hits. Twice, thanks to San Benito walks and errors, Gilroy loaded the bases.
The Mustangs opened the game with a lead-off single and an immediate threat. Casey Lester singled and eventually made her way to third with only one out. Kaylana Mah singled to center field, but the ball was hit too hard to score Lester from second. They again loaded the bases in the third.
“We were close, but it just didn’t happen,” Berggren said. “It’s too bad we didn’t capitalize on them.”
The Mustangs finally got on the board in the seventh inning after a lead-off double by second baseman Celeste Mendoza, who later scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Castro.
The Mustangs (1-2 in the TCAL, 5-3 overall) host Alvarez at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday. San Benito (3-0 TCAL, 4-0) will play in the Wilcox Mission City Invitational today.