The scope of the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division softball standings would be much more orderly had San Mateo just gone away Wednesday at Terra Nova.
But the San Mateo offense would have none of that. Trailing 5-1 after two innings, the Bearcats clawed to within one before rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh to stun the Lady Tigers 7-5.
San Mateo was one of five Ocean Division teams entering play Wednesday with records at or above the .500 mark. With the win, San Mateo (2-1 in Ocean Division, 4-6 overall) moves into a second-place tie with Terra Nova (2-1, 3-8). Both trail first-place South City, as the Warriors improved to 4-1 in Ocean Division play Tuesday with a 17-2 mercy-rule win over Jefferson.
The Bearcats’ comeback was one wild ride. Terra Nova scored three in the first and two more in the second, but could have done much more damage had it not been for running into outs at home plate in both innings.
Senior pitcher Gina Titus settled in after that for the Bearcats, holding Terra Nova to no runs on two hits from the third inning on.
“I just had to stay in there and not let the score get to us,” Titus said. “We had to think about coming back and not that we were losing and keep trying hard.”
The Bearcats rallied for three runs in the seventh without tabbing a hit in the inning. Sophomore leadoff hitter Taylor Doi sparked the comeback by drawing a walk to start the frame. Doi moved to second on a wild pitch then scooted over to third when Paige Stoveland reached on an infield error.
Stoveland promptly stole second. Andrea Holcombe followed by hitting a sharp grounder on the infield with the throw going home. As Terra Nova catcher Taylor Gomes attempted to stonewall the plate, Doi slid right through her to score the tying run. Andrea Holcombe not only tabbed an RBI but reached via fielder’s choice with Stoveland advancing to third. On the ensuing at-bat with Abbie Holcombe at the plate, Stoveland read a ball in the dirt and darted home to score the go-ahead run.
“If the game wasn’t so close, I probably wouldn’t have gone because I don’t think I’m a very fast runner,” Stoveland said. “I hesitated at first, but I saw the ball got past (the catcher). It was kind of do-or-die, so I went. Then I didn’t know if I was safe or not but I was.”
With Andrea Holcombe advancing to third base on the play, she later scored on a wild pitch to give San Mateo a 7-5 lead.
Titus marched out to the circle in the bottom of the inning with her first lead since the first inning. And the senior right-hander did the rest, retiring the side in order to end it, improving her record to 2-2 on the year.
“It’s definitely nice to have a lead in the pocket,” Titus said.
San Mateo jumped out to a quick lead in the first. Doi singled to open the game then came around to score on a passed ball, giving San Mateo a 1-0 lead.
But Terra Nova answered with three in the bottom of the inning. Freshman Maia Borovina shot a line drive to right-center and jetted around for a triple. Gabby Spencer-Crook tabbed an RBI with an infield grounder to tie it, with Spencer-Crook reaching on an error. Spencer-Crook stole second, but was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single by Janelle DeJong. Kela Kapuni walked and she and DeJong both moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Lesley Bode grounded out to drive home DeJong and Gomes singled to drive home Kapuni, giving the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
In the second, Terra Nova extended its lead with Spencer-Crook and DeJong scoring on a pair of errors by the San Mateo infield before Kapuni was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
San Mateo added a run in the third and two more in the fourth. The big hit in the fourth was an RBI triple off the bat of Sophia Jaro, who later scored on an infield single by Nicole Chiu to close the Terra Nova lead to 5-4.
“Terra Nova was a very good team,” San Mateo head coach Randy Boardman said. “They made some mistakes in the field. We certainly made our share of mistakes.
Each team committed four errors and ran into numerous outs on the base paths.
For the Tigers, the loss was the first regulation seven-inning game they’ve played in league this season. Terra Nova’s first to games were each 15-0 mercy-rule wins over Menlo-Atherton and Jefferson, respectively.
“Our team is a tremendous hitting team,” Terra Nova head coach Donna Tolero. “We’ve played a very tough preseason. We’ve played a lot of Catholic schools and we’ve put up 10 or 15 hits in every game. Not always come up on the positive side but we put the ball in play.”
Wednesday’s game was the first time the Terra Nova squad had been together on the field in a week, with several players taking a school-related trip to Europe.
“Unfortunately we’ve had one of those weeks where kids were missing during the last few practices,” Tolero said. “And I told them it would probably affect us and it did.”
Gomes showed up at the plate for Terra Nova though, pacing all hitters with a 3-for-4 day. Terra Nova’s comeback from four runs down was its best come-from-behind win of the year. Monday, the Tigers overcame a 5-0 deficit against Sacred Heart Cathedral, but ultimately fell to the Irish 9-5.