NORTHWEST GLENDALE — The Mariners successfully balanced their delicate pitching situation and used a five-run third inning to pull ahead for good, while the sun literally set on plucky JDL Systems' upstart bid to reach the title game of the 2010 Tri-Cities Minor Softball Tournament on Thursday at Pelanconi Park.
The 1 hour 40 minute time limit set for the semifinal game between the two Crescenta Valley Little League squads kicked in in the bottom of the fourth inning with one out and the bases full of Mariners, shortly after the home team had doubled its slim one-run lead for a final score of 11-9.
Brenda Gamez, who pitched the second and third innings and allowed one earned run, notched the win for the Mariners, who got a run-scoring double from Rebecca Mencia and RBI singles from Summer Solomon, Gamez, Taylor Schaffer and Madeline Ellison.
"It was a great game for both teams," Mariners Coach Art Gamez said. "Our girls finally settled down, I got my [normal] starting pitcher back in and she started taking control.
"JDL played a great game. They battled with us through the whole season."
Pitchers are limited to six innings of work per week and Brenda Gamez has one inning of pitching eligibility left for the championship game, which will be played at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Pelanconi Park. But Coach Gamez has four other pitchers to try to get the job done.
JDL took control of the game early, plating four runs in the top of the first inning that began with Brianna McReynolds' leadoff single. McReynolds scored the game's first run on a steal of home before Jordan Hinkle made it 2-0 by scoring from third base on a wild pitch.
Julia Moran then scored on a groundout by Catalina Ruiz and Peyton Lindmann-Marshall scored on a dropped third strike.
"We're the only team in the Tri-Cities that have two 8-year-old pitchers," JDL Coach Cary McReynolds said. "We're a really young team. …We didn't win a lot of games in the regular season and we came out and won two games [in the tournament] against teams that were twice as tall as us."
Schaffer got the Mariners on the board quickly in the bottom of the first, doubling to lead off the inning and scoring on an error on the same play, and Solomon's single to plate Gamez (two for three) cut the lead to two going to the second inning.
JDL's lead remained three runs going into the bottom of the second, where a key error and base hits by Schaffer and Gamez helped the Mariners pull into a 5-5 tie.
Gamez struck out the side in the top of the third inning before the Mariners struck for the one-inning maximum five runs in the bottom half. Back-to-back RBI singles from Schaffer and Ellison capped the scoring, which included runs scored by Madeline Hiniker, Jeweliana Schultz-Johnson, Hanna Wright, Kerry Barba and Schaffer.
But JDL made a stand in the top of the fourth, using singles from McReynolds and Hinkle to pace a four-run rally with runs scored by Daniella Tomic, McReynolds, Hinkle and Lindmann-Marshall.
"I did [feel good about the way they battled back]," Coach McReynolds said. "I thought we might be able to win it there, but we just ran out of time."