Updated: Feb 17
The Monarchs take one of two games against Mt. San Jacinto College, proving their offense can catch fire at any moment but is difficult to rekindle once the flames go out.
By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor
Starting pitcher Isabel Ward’s six shutout innings helped secure the game one victory, but pitching depth proved to be the fatal flaw of the Monarchs as their relievers struggled to keep the Eagles off the board in game two.
Valley College (2-6) came into Friday afternoon’s affair looking to secure their second and third win of the season and bounce back from the rocky start thus far. The Monarchs batted in run after run to ice game one, winning 6-1 and scoring over four runs for only the second time this season. Previously winless Mt. San Jacinto College (1-6) responded in game two, reversing the outcome of game one for an 8-0 victory.
“[Game two] was a trap game,” said Valley coach Greg Venger. “We won game one convincingly, 6-1, but we got a little complacent, a little too comfortable.”
To start game one, Valley came out struggling in the first inning. In the first at-bat, a double was hit to the left center wall, putting the Monarchs in a vulnerable position early. After a quick ground out, Ward followed up with a wild pitch, allowing the runner to move up to third.
Following the wild pitch, a line drive was bulleted past third base for an RBI single that put the Eagles up by one.
Mt. San Jacinto’s lead did not last long, however, as catcher Citlali Mendez sent the ball barrelling at the left field wall for a double. Infielder Melissa Orozco then hit a double into deep right field, scoring Mendez to tie the game at one. Infielder Katelyn Santisteban hit the Monarchs’ third consecutive double, ripping the ball into deep center, scoring Orozco.
Ward walked a pair to begin the top of the second, creating self-induced trouble after her offense provided a one run lead. Luckily, the right-handed pitcher quickly cleaned up without allowing any runs, giving the Monarchs time to build their lead.
The Monarchs had a chance to strike after back-to-back 1-2-3 frames. Mendez hit a grounder past third for a double and with a runner in scoring position, Orozco hit a single to give Valley runners on first and third.
On the next at-bat, all the offensive work turned to dust. Santisteban popped the ball up to the Mt. San Jacinto shortstop to end the inning.
Several outfielders came up clutch to force another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth. The inning was capped off by shortstop Caitlyn Pineda making a running catch in center field for the third out.
The Monarchs huddled up before the bottom of the fourth and rallied their offense to get more runs in and solidify a victory.
“More runs on three, one-two-three, more runs!” was the Monarchs’ chant going into the fourth inning, and more runs they scored.
Center fielder Elizabeth Flores batted first, hitting a single past the infielder and into right field. Shortstop Tèa Carbajal rocketed the ball to the left field wall for a double, setting up first and third with no outs for the Monarchs. Isabel Flores hit an RBI single down the middle to score Flores and make the score 3-1. Seconds later, a wild pitch led to Carbajal crossing home for Valley’s fourth run of the game.
With runners on first and second, right fielder Lexus Freire sacrifice bunted to move them into scoring position. Infielder Caitlyn Pineda hit the ball down the middle to score a run and Mendez hit a groundout to second to score another.
The Monarchs never gave up this five-run lead as Ward stepped up, allowing only two hits and two walks in the remaining three innings.
“I just made sure to keep my consistency up,” said Ward. “It all goes back to the mechanics. I kept my cool and I kept breathing.”
Monarchs celebrated their win during the 30-minute break between games and looked to secure a sweep.
However, the Eagles flipped the script.
The Monarchs’ relievers could not keep runs off the board in game two, causing a large deficit that the bats could not shrink.
Valley’s pitchers Amber Basham and Sidney Hernandez combined for 4.0 innings of work, giving up three and five runs respectively.
Mt. San Jacinto scored four runs in the second, three in the third and one in the fourth inning of the second contest.
The Monarchs faced an uphill battle and almost rallied in the bottom of the second. Valley sent back-to-back flyballs to center field and watched Mt. San Jacinto centerfielder Veronika Prado make diving catches on both, leaving Valley with a goose egg on the scoreboard.
More walks, wild pitches and hits for the Eagles saw their lead increase to seven in the third, forcing Venger into another mound visit.
Momentum seemed to be turning in Valley’s favor, however, when Pineda stepped up to the plate with two outs and Freire on first base. She rocketed the ball into right field and it took an awkward bounce into foul territory, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. Despite this effort, the next at-bat saw a pop-up caught by the Eagles’ infielder, ending the inning in an anti-climactic fashion.
The one bright spot in the game came when Elizabeth Flores made a catch at the wall on what looked like a possible home run, but the stunning effort did not spark the Monarchs’ offense.
Valley’s chances were running thin and the Monarchs needed to work some magic in order to comeback.
This time, however, there was no chant going into the fourth inning.
The match ended 8-0 after five innings as the dejected Monarchs went home, consoled only by the fact that they won game one.
“We got three outs in the top of the first,” said Venger. “Had we come up in the bottom of the first and put a number up, had we scored anything, I think that would have been a really big momentum shift going into the rest of the game. We didn’t, and we couldn’t battle back.”
Valley’s next game will be on Tuesday, when they play host to Oxnard College at 2:30 p.m.