49er fans were on the edge of their seats as the Long Beach State softball team fought to take the third and final win of the series in the bottom of the seventh inning. Long Beach was robbed of the series sweep against UC Davis in the final game with a score of 4-1, but defeated the Aggies 3-2 and 10-0 in the previous games this weekend.
The first win was credited to junior pitcher Kellie White, who threw a complete game and earned four strikeouts. Despite the loss on Sunday, White was able to master eight strikeouts. Junior pitcher Ashley Coleman shut out the Aggies in the second game Saturday with four strikeouts in the five innings pitched.
The 49ers started off the first inning of the first game with a heavy use of small ball, loading the bases with the help of bunts from sophomore outfielder Naomi Hernandez and senior left fielder Jamie Wren. This game play is something that opponents don’t typically see from Long Beach,but it proved to be effective in the first match.
“We had situations that called for [small ball],” head coach Kim Sowder said. “They did try to slap [Sunday] but fouled a lot of those pitches off or just didn’t get them down.”
The first two runs scored came from a walk with the bases loaded in the first inning, and an RBI double in the third.
The Aggies inched closer in the sixth inning when Maddie Rojas grounded out, but allowed Isabella Leon to race home and slide under the tag.
The 49ers retaliated in the same inning when junior third baseman Sydney McCollum reached first after slapping through the gap between first and second. Freshman center fielder Maddy Ruffin dropped the ball into left center and brought the score to 3-1.
UC Davis made one final attempt to raise the score with an RBI double by Autumn Miller, but the team’s efforts fell short as the 49ers secured the win with a score of 3-2.
With a strategy opposite of the one used in the first game, swinging away got runners on the bases in the second game. With RBIs by senior designated hitter Lauren Lombardi and sophomore right fielder Alyssa Gonzales, the score elevated to 2-0 early on.
The third inning saw action with an RBI from Ruffin. The most explosive inning was the fourth, where Long Beach racked up seven runs and put itself in a 10 run lead.
“We had good discipline at the plate,” Sowder said. “Our goal is to lay off of the pitch up in the zone. On our field with this wind you’re not going to have success hitting the ball in the air.”
The Aggies struggled to earn a run in the seventh, and the game concluded at 10-0 due to the mercy rule.
The third game began with a productive first inning for the Aggies. They decided to match the small ball game played by the 49ers, and Marissa Jauregui moved a runner over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Meghan Bradbury hit a one-hopper to left field, and drove in the first run of the game.
The 49ers evened the score in the fourth when Wren dove head-first into home after a single to the first baseman by junior first baseman Taylor Rowland.
The tie was broken in the sixth inning when UC Davis added two more runs, which were accompanied by cheers and applause from rowdy Aggie fans. Marisa Given brought the score to 4-1 in the seventh with an RBI chopper to the shortstop.
The 49ers were given a chance to come back in the bottom of the seventh, but were unable to find success.
“This weekend I thought that we came out pretty hot,” White said. “We all came together and it was honestly one of our best weekends that we’ve had in conference so far.”
Long Beach begins its final series at home 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday at the Softball Complex against Cal State Northridge.