GLENDALE — The Glendale Community College softball team had a chance in the second game of a double dip against Bakersfield College Thursday afternoon to finish a sweep of the three-game season series against its foe from the Western State Conference Blue Division.
The Vaqueros were poised to do just that, taking a three-run lead into the top of the final inning before the visitors tied it up. However, GCC dug deep and salvaged the sweep on the strength of a two-run walk-off homer on the initiative of Vanessa Mendoza, giving the home team a 6-4 victory.
“It was supposed to be a bunt sign, but I just thought [the pitch] was juicy and fat that I just wanted to hit it,” Mendoza said of her game-winning hit. “I wanted a hit, I wanted it to end it, and I wanted to win, so I just hit it.”
Glendale (16-17-1, 6-8) had a masterful pitching performance from Kayla Evans through six innings before the sophomore gave up three runs in the top of the seventh, tying the contest at 4.
“Phenomenal,” Glendale coach Dave “Hawk” Wilder said of Evans’s pitching effort. “For six innings they couldn’t touch her.”
The Vaqueros did not panic and started the bottom of the frame with a single to left field by Nicole Saucillo. Mendoza, who had led off the fifth inning with an inside-the-park home run, followed and smashed the third pitch of her at-bat deep into left field, earning a trip around the bases and an end to the game with her team on top, 6-4.
“I’m like on high right now, really happy,” Mendoza said. “I can’t stop smiling. It was so fun.”
It was the first two-home-run game for the sophomore shortstop of the Vaqueros, who belted three homers in the game. Freshman Amanda Carriedo also led off the fifth inning with an inside-the-park home run to deep center field.
“Today my assistant coach Sal [Pizzo] said to me our girls look loose, but ready,” Wilder said, “and they played the best two games we’ve played in a long time.”
Glendale handily won the first game of the day, 11-1, in a game that was halted after five innings due to the mercy rule. In that game, right-hander Katie Bakhshian struck out five in her five innings of work. Sofia Garcia, Megumi Furuta, and Jena Kaser each had two RBIs.
In the second game, the Renegades (4-27, 3-12) had to readjust as the Vaqueros gave the ball to the left-handed Evans. The sophomore dominated Bakersfield early on, recording seven of her nine strikeouts in the first four innings before setting down the Renegades in order in the top of the fifth on just three pitches.
“It felt good to get all those strikeouts,” Evans said. “I just had good movement on my ball today.”
The only run Evans allowed before being touched for three runs in the final stanza came on a two-out RBI single by Renegade pitcher Kelsey Best. Best, who also drove in her squad’s only run in the first game, went the distance in the circle in both games, suffering both losses.
“This was one of my better games,” Evans said. “I haven’t pitched too well lately, but I pulled through this game.”
Although Glendale won both games on Thursday, it did suffer a loss in between the two contests when starting catcher Jena Kaser hyper-extended her knee warming up in the field and had to be replaced in the second act by Garcia.
“It was a big confidence booster,” Mendoza said of winning both sides of the double header, “because in the beginning of the season we didn’t play like that. If we would have, our season would have been different. So I’m just hoping we continue good energy and the good hits, so we can finish strong.”