Not bad for an opening act. Make that a high-wire act.
Glendale High's softball team used every last bit of energy to record its biggest and likely wildest win of the century.
Tiffany Bartamian singled with one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning to give Glendale a heart-pounding 13-12 win against Carter on Tuesday in a CIF Southern Section Division III wild-card contest.
A wild celebration took place with Bartamian, a senior catcher, surrounded by teammates after she drove home Valeria Hidalgo and Sammy Fabian with a line drive down the right-field line.
It was the first postseason win for Glendale this century. Glendale (15-9) will meet Los Altos in a first-round road game at 3:15 p.m. Thursday.
Normally a pull hitter, Bartamian went with an outside 2-1 pitch to become the hero for a Glendale squad that rallied from three deficits.
“It’s very rare that I hit the ball the other way,” said Bartamian, who finished with three hits, three runs batted in and two runs. “I just knew that I needed to relax and trust myself. I felt confident.
“I came to the plate and closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I just needed to zone in on the pitch and keep my breathing under control.”
With one out, Hidalgo singled and moved to second on a single by Fabian. Esme Piedra walked to load the bases before Bartamian came through with the biggest hit of the season for the Nitros with Fabian scoring the game-winning run.
Glendale, which took fourth in the Pacific League and was making its third playoff appearance in the last four seasons, overcame deficits of 1-0, 11-7 and 12-11.
Carter (11-12), which finished fourth in the Citrus Belt League, finished with 20 hits, but couldn’t close out pesky Glendale. The Lions took a 12-11 lead in the eighth on an error by the third baseman.
“We came back to the bench and we still had three cracks at it,” said first-year Glendale coach Chris Funaro, whose team rallied for four runs in the seventh to knot it at 11. “We came back earlier, so why not give it another try?
“You’re happy for a person like Tiffany. Yes, she’s a pull hitter, but she knows how to hit the ball where it needs to go.”
Carter held an 11-7 lead entering the bottom of the seventh. A two-run double by Piedra sliced the deficit to 11-9. Bartamian then made it 11-10 with a run-scoring single. With two outs, Janet Dominguez singled to right, sending Bartamian to third. On the play, Bartamian scored on a throwing error by the right fielder to make it 11-11.
“That turned out to be some comeback right there,” Funaro said. “I think we found out today that the best place to come together as a team is at a CIF playoff game.”
The momentous postseason win came to be thanks to a multitude of big days at the plate for the Nitros.
Fabian finished with three hits, including a home run, two intentional walks, three runs and an RBI. Piedra finished with three hits, three runs and three RBI. Hidalgo had three hits and scored twice.
Carter scored two runs in the seventh to build an 11-7 lead. The Lions received a run-scoring single each from Jillian Figueroa (four hits, three runs, two RBI) and Marissa Gutierrez (three hits, three RBI).
The Nitros had held a 4-1 lead entering the sixth before the Lions scored eight runs on nine hits while sending 13 batters to the plate.
Valeria Castillo of Carter made it 9-4 with a run-scoring single.
Fabian then led off the sixth with an inside-the-park home run down the left-field line to make it 9-5. Andrea Chacon had a run-scoring single to bring the Nitros to within 9-6 and a ground out to third by Amanda Gonzalez trimmed the deficit to 9-7.
“We knew it wasn’t over,” Fabian said. “We knew we still had some chances.
“What was big was just trying to get the little hits and keep getting people on base so we had a chance. We have the people up and down the lineup who can find ways to contribute.”
Carter took a 1-0 lead in the first on a run-scoring triple by Kayleigh Bucio.
Glendale tied it in the first on an infield single by Aurora Funaro (two hits).
The Nitros scored three runs in the fourth. A two-run triple by Miya Legaspi gave the Nitros a 3-1 lead before an RBI single by Piedra extended the lead to 4-1.
Alicia Rivera finished with three hits for Carter.