In a battle of Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division unbeatens, Carlmont rallied late to score a 6-2 come-from-behind win over Half Moon Bay Tuesday.
The Scots (4-0 in Bay Division, 14-3 overall) entered the bottom of the sixth trailing 2-1, but sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning amid a five-run rally against Cougars freshman right-hander Ally Sarabia. Carlmont cleanup hitter Gabriella Pons started the comeback by surprising the Cougars defense with a bunt single.
Pons said Carlmont head coach Jim Liggett noticed the Half Moon Bay third baseman had been playing her deep in previous at bats. So, the senior slugger was prepared when she received the bunt sign from third-base coach Haley Woods.
“[Pons] bats fourth for us so you don’t expect her to lay down a bunt,” Liggett said. “But she laid down a perfect bunt and got the rally started for us.”
Pons said she has executed a number of bunts for the Scots this season though.
“When we need a drag (bunt), I can do it,” Pons said.
The bunt single was the first of five straight knocks by the Scots, with all five players coming around to score. Mariko Kondo, Christy Peterson and Danielle Giuliacci each singled before Theresa Gomez capped the five-hit streak with a double. The rally reinvigorated the team according to sophomore Kelsey Ching.
“None of us really had energy and we weren’t really motivated,” Ching said. “But then we started … making noise in the dugout when we got the rally started.”
That was a 180-degree shift in attitude from early in the game when Half Moon Bay (3-1, 8-4) jumped out to a first-inning lead. The Cougars got a big two-out swing of the bat from senior Harlee Donovan, who scorched a line-drive home run to center to give Half Moon Bay an early 1-0 edge.
In the third inning, Donovan delivered again. Cougars junior Emma Alaimo started the frame with a bunt single then stole second. With one out, Donovan lined an RBI single to center, giving the Cougars a 2-0 lead.
And the early lead saw all the energy swing to the Half Moon Bay dugout, according to Cougars head coach Deanna Tower.
“They were super pumped,” Tower said. “And to get a second run, they were excited.”
Sarabia was nails the first two turns through the Carlmont lineup. The freshman held the Scots hitless through three innings before Rebecca Faulkner singled to lead off the fourth. Carlmont strung three hits together in the fifth to get on the board when Jacey Phipps produced an RBI single to score Missy Pekarek.
With the hit by the leadoff hitter Phipps, the Scots turned over the lineup for a third time which proved the death knell for Sarabia.
“[Sarabia] pitched well the first two times the batters saw her,” Tower said. “They couldn’t do too much with her. It was the third time around they got to her.”
The young hurler has been key to the Cougars’ success. Sarabia has pitched in all but two games this season. With the loss she falls to 10-4.
“She was getting frustrated for sure,” Tower said. “Her screwball, she wasn’t getting called for strikes as much as she wanted … but Ally is the type of girl that always gets frustrated with herself. She just always wants to get better.”
For a Scots team hitting .373 this season, playing from behind isn’t something to which they are accustomed. In three previous Bay Division games this season, Carlmont outscored its opponents 23-1.
“It feels really good to play a competitive game and come back like that,” Pons said.
Now Carlmont is sitting pretty in sole possession of first place in the Bay Division.
“It really sets us up for the rest of the league,” Pons said. “They’re going to come back wanting to beat us the next time around. But it gives us a good head start.”
The Scots and Cougars rematch March 8 at Half Moon Bay.