San Pedro High Softball With Epic Comeback To Edge Carson

It truly was a 'Throwback Thursday' for San Pedro High softball.

Down by three runs in a pivotal Marine League battle against visiting Carson, the Pirates relied on some vintage heroics from years past to guide them through, not to mention the constant belief in themselves. 

A pair of long balls stormed their way into extra-inning fun, and San Pedro would walk it off with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning with a double from senior catcher Andrea Cline that was as definitive as it was decisive, for a 4-3 victory over the Colts that kept them in a first place tie with Banning of Wilmington, and avenged an earlier 8-3 defeat at Carson on March 20.

San Pedro (13-7-1 overall, 5-1 league) has won six consecutive games since.

"I knew we were capable," said Cline, who has two other game-winning hits against Banning and Palos Verdes this season already. "I never doubted that we would come back and once we did, I knew we weren't going to let it go."

Senior pitcher Cindy Robles and Carson junior pitcher Ashley Weis dominated the first four innings, with Robles allowing just one hit, and Weis only surrendering a double to senior second baseman Ricki Justiniano with one out in the fourth. The Colts (12-6, 4-2) would break free in the top of the fifth inning.

A two-out walk and a fielding error opened the door for Carson's leadoff hitter, junior Briana Ryan, and she blasted a full-count pitch to left-center field for a two-run triple, then would score on junior second baseman Shanelle Sablan's RBI-single. In comes sophomore first baseman Taylor Edwards, who drove in five runs in the first meeting against San Pedro, but she flied out to San Pedro junior left fielder Taiya Reyna to prevent further damage.

"I needed to get to that ball as fast as I could," said Reyna, who made a strong sprint to the ball before making the grab.

Even with the deficit, the Pirates remained undaunted and never lost faith in each other.

"I have to give credit to (injured junior outfielder) Gidget (Gutierrez) for giving us a needed motivational pep talk in the dugout while we were down in that fifth inning," Robles said. "That made us all want this game even more and I cheered for each girls and just believed in them."

Weis would shut the Pirates down until the bottom of the sixth inning, when freshman first baseman Briana Talamantes drilled a leadoff single to center field. Two outs later, Justiniano, who homered off of Weis for the first of back-to-back shots in the loss at Carson (Cline hit the other one), would crush a 1-1 pitch over the left-center field fence for a two-run home run, her third of the season.

"Honestly, the game just took my mind over and I let instinct kick in and control the game," Justiniano said. "I knew I had to get a hit if we were going to stay in the game. I was just going for a base hit to keep us alive."

When Reyna led off the bottom of the seventh inning, she had somewhat of a similar, yet more simpler goal.

"Not striking out just to get on first," Reyna said matter-of-factly.

Sure enough, Reyna worked the count to 3-and-1, then fouled off Weis' next offering to make the count full. On the very next pitch, the three-year veteran would launch the next pitch just over right-center field for her first high school home run, which knotted the score at 3-3. San Pedro would get a two-out single from Talamantes, but she was left stranded at first, sending the game to extra innings.

"I was excited," Reyna said of her game-tying round-tripper. "Because the game wasn't over and that put us in position to hit more."

Before the 'hit more' part came into play, Robles would use her four-year experience to take control in the top of the eighth as she finished a brilliant four-hitter, walking two, allowing three runs (two earned), by retiring the Colts in order, including two of her career-high 14 strikeouts.

"Cindy threw her heart out for us today," Cline said. "She has worked so hard to get to this point, and we aren't stopping now."

After senior second baseman/shortstop Deanna Gonzalez flied out to right to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Justiniano drew a walk on four pitches to set up Cline, who blasted the first pitch down the left field line all the way to the fence. Justiniano turned on the jets on the base paths, and slid safely home as the throw to the plate was offline, setting off a wild celebration as the Pirates mobbed Cline.

"I went up to bat with a certain mind-set," Cline said. "We have been doubted by so many all year."

Cline's teammates were not surprised she would be the one to finish it.

"When doesn't she come in clutch?" Robles asked emphatically. "I know I can always count on her."

Adds Justiniano: "Me and Drea are like a package deal. I knew once I was on she was going to do anything to make it happen and I was going to do anything to score."

This was just the latest of big wins for San Pedro as they also defeated Palos Verdes and West Torrance in tight games at home, not to mention their eight-inning victory at Banning which the defending Marine League champion Pilots no doubt will look to get retribution from on April 25 when the two teams meet at San Pedro with the league title likely on the line.

Before that game happens, all three Marine League powers will compete in the Las Vegas Spring Jamboree Tournament next week during Spring Break, which begins next Thursday.

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