NORTHEAST GLENDALE — With solid pitching and early offense leading the way in both games, the Glendale Community College softball team had leads down the stretch of both halves of its Western State Conference doubleheader against visiting Bakersfield College on Thursday.
But twice, the Vaqueros came up short in protecting those leads, as the Renegades rallied for a pair of comeback wins, 6-1, and 5-4.
"It's the same old thing, it's mistakes," said Glendale Coach Dave "Hawk" Wilder, whose team fell to 10-20 and 5-6 in conference. "It's a young team. Our pitching was great again today. Nicolby [Atallah], who has really stepped it up over the last three or four games, threw a really, really good game."
Just as starting pitcher Jennifer Meza was effective in holding a 1-0 lead in the opener before Bakersfield took a 2-1 lead in the fifth and broke it open with four runs (one earned) in the seventh, Atallah was sharp for most of the second game.
She allowed two runs in the opening frame on a leadoff walk, a pair of singles and a ball up the middle that ricocheted off the second-base bag for a double, but had a 3-2 lead by the time she returned to the circle in the second and held Bakersfield scoreless on one hit over the next three innings.
"In the first inning, I struggled a little bit finding my zone but I felt from the second to seventh inning I got in a groove," Atallah said.
The Vaqueros' first inning was ignited by center fielder Nancy Pinedo (two for four), who reached on a bunt and stole second base. Brandy Morin then collected the first of her four hits in the game with a single to shortstop that moved Morin to third, where she was able to score on a 7-4 double play one batter later.
Catcher Brittany Wright started a two-out rally with a single to left and scored when Sam Dickens' single to center field was mishandled for an error. Brittni Spear (two for four) singled up the middle to plate Dickens, who went two for four, for a 3-2 lead.
Hitting in the second game wasn't a problem for the Vaqueros, who recorded 13 hits, but leaving runners on was, as they stranded seven and couldn't get a hit with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the second. Glendale would get one run out of that situation when left fielder Casey Nicodemus scored from third base on a wild pitch to take a 4-2 lead.
Bakersfield began to chip away in the fifth inning, scraping one run across on four infield singles and a run-scoring throwing error, and tied the game at 4 in the sixth.
Bakersfield catcher Kara Frankhouser led off the sixth inning with a stand-up triple when her high wind-swept fly ball to right field fell between Glendale's outfielders and she scored on a sacrifice fly one batter later.
"We're not getting the luck," Wilder said. "They get the bloopers and we don't get the bloopers, they catch the bloopers and we don't catch the bloopers and that's the difference in these games."
Bakersfield's half of the seventh began with back-to-back infield singles by Brittany Messer and Danielle Ayler. A fielder's choice groundout to shortstop set up runners at the corners with one out for Brandi Church, who laced a line drive to shortstop Carly Zabka. Zabka, who had injured a finger on her throwing hand earlier but remained in the game, threw to first base in attempt to record a double play, but the ball skipped into foul territory, allowing Messer to score the go-ahead run.
"She destroyed her finger," Wilder said of Zabka, who was pulled from the game following the play. "We should have gone out and looked at it because it was that bad. She made a major catch and she just shouldn't have thrown the ball with a runner on third because the finger was so bad."
Morin bounced a single over third base to lead off the bottom of the seventh and was at third base when Dickens popped out to hard-throwing reliever Julie Estep for the final out.
"We fight, but the fight wasn't hard enough today," Atallah said. "I did my best, but sometimes your best falls short. We just have to keep fighting. We need to end our season strong and just turn our attitudes around."