NORTHEAST GLENDALE — While its play faltered, the Glendale Community College softball team's fortunes remained high on Saturday, when the Vaqueros continued to advance in the seventh annual Vaquero Softball Classic at the Glendale Sports Complex despite losing to Ventura College, 2-0, in an elimination game.
Because the Pirates will be unavailable to compete in today's final round, Glendale will instead play at 9:30 a.m. for the right to play in the championship game. But Vaqueros Coach Dave "Hawk" Wilder wasn't doing back flips over his team backing into the semifinals after the team's bats and gloves failed to provide support for sophomore pitcher Brandy Morin in the team's first loss of the season on Saturday.
"Errors beat us. Brandy pitches a two-hitter game and we made four errors in two innings and they get two unearned runs — that's the game," said Wilder, who saw his left-hander go seven strong two-hit innings, strike out nine and not allow a base hit after the second frame, only to be out dueled by Ventura sophomore lefty Teresa Lemos, who held Glendale to six hits. "If we don't make errors we win. This game's 0-0 going into the next inning."
The Vaqueros (3-1) made six errors in the game, with three coming in the top of the second inning, where the Pirates scored their decisive two runs. Rae Moreno led off the frame by reaching on a fielding error on a ball hit hard to short and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt before Morin struck out the next batter swinging for the second out.
But Torey Perez extended the inning with a single to center field that put runners on the corners and she and Moreno both scored when next batter Cheyenne Barrios' grounder to second was misplayed for an error, then picked up and thrown away into the third base dugout.
From the second inning on, Glendale, which got two hits apiece from Morin and Jenna Kaser, left a runner aboard in every frame but the fifth. The Vaqueros, who failed to record an extra-base hit, had runners in scoring position in the third and fourth innings, but courtesy runner Karla Medina was out by a mile trying to score from second on Morin's humpback single to right in the third and the fourth ended on a line drive right to Pirates right fielder Jacki Dickson off the bat of Mynia Bogan with runners on first and second.
"Our hitters were just trying to press and do too many things," Wilder said. "Their pitcher did a good job, but she didn't throw any better than Brandy. We got runners on and we couldn't score, they got runners on and we made errors."
"We should never, ever get beat by anybody, 2-0. We have so many good bats."
Morin was adept at pitching out of trouble, recording the last two outs by strikeout to escape the third after an error, a walk and a steal had put runners at second and third with one out and whiffing four of the last six batters she faced to keep the Vaqueros within two runs up until their final at bats. The defense was far from all bad, as well, as third baseman Kitty Nguyen charged in to field a popped-up bunt and turned a 5-3 double play to end the fourth inning.
Vaqueros leadoff hitter Nancy Pinedo remains out with separated shoulder and her return is anxiously awaited.
"That's what's hurting us," Wilder said. "We've been winning without her, but you need to have leadoff speed."