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Trio of Homers Power Vaqueros in 8-7 Win over Cuesta

The Vaqueros celebrate Elliana Ryan's 1st inning homer (Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)
The Vaqueros celebrate Elliana Ryan's 1st inning homer (Ken Sciallo/Sevilla Photography)

By Jimmy Friery

SANTA BARBARA, CA – The Santa Barbara City College Softball team beat Cuesta on Thursday at Pershing Park, 8-7.

The Vaqueros handed Cuesta just their second WSC-North loss of the season, the other being to undefeated Moorpark. In the previous matchup at Cuesta between the teams, Cuesta defeated SBCC 1-0. After Thursday's win, SBCC (8-3) sits just 1 game back of 9-2 Cuesta for 2nd place in the conference.

The matchup between two top-3 teams began in the Vaqueros' favor. Elliana Ryan homered in the bottom of the 1st with 2 outs, giving SBCC a 2-0 lead.

Cuesta answered with a 2-out solo shot in the next half inning, halving the lead to 2-1. SBCC left runners on second and third in the bottom half of the frame to keep the score there.

In the 3rd, Cuesta tied it at 2 apiece thanks to a sequence of walk, walk, error, and single. A sacrifice fly later in the inning gave them the lead—3-2 Cuesta.

Not for long, though, as pitcher Alena Johnson took back the lead by crushing a 3-run homer. The Vaqueros once again had a multi-run lead at 5-3, and they would never relinquish it.

On to the top of the 4th, an RBI groundout did shrink the lead to 5-4, though. A hit by pitch and single then loaded the bases with 1 out, jeopardizing the Vaqueros advantage once again. However, a line drive hit right at third baseman Gracie Verdugo allowed her to step on third after the catch for a double play to end the inning.

In the home half, Verdugo provided another highlight by hitting a 3-run homer of her own, and the Vaqueros now led 8-4.

Alena Johnson retired the side in order in innings 5 and 6, maintaining the 4-run lead into the top of the 7th.

Looking to close out the win, Johnson continued her retired batters streak by inducing a groundout to lead off the inning. But, a walk, stolen base, and RBI single made the score 8-5. A hit by pitch of the following batter brought the tying run to the plate, still with just 1 out. SBCC earned out number 2 on a fielder's choice, before a 2-RBI single then put the tying run on base and go-ahead run at the plate with an 8-7 score. Thankfully for the Vaqueros, the next batter lined out to Jessica Reveles at shortstop to end the game.

Gracie Verdugo, Elliana Ryan, and Alena Johnson all had the aforementioned homers—which provided all 8 Vaqueros runs. The trio all had 2 hits, as did Alexia Ayala. Verdugo and Ryan also walked twice, meaning they both reached base 4 times.

Alena Johnson earned the win, pitching all 7 innings and giving up 5 earned runs on 5 hits and 5 walks, striking out 2. Her 2.78 ERA is second-best of all WSC pitchers, behind only Moorpark's Amanda Smith with a 1.60.

The Vaqueros have three conference games left against Moorpark (11-0, 1st), Oxnard (1-8, 6th), and Hancock (7-4, 4th). Before then, they will play a doubleheader at Cabrillo on Friday and another doubleheader at Ohlone on Saturday—5 games in 3 days.