The Long Beach State softball team struck first in its series against the Titans thanks to another complete game by right-hander Christina Clermont and a grand slam from catcher Lauren Lombardi.
The 49ers (19-22, 6-4) downed Fullerton (27-18, 5-5) 6-1 at the 49er Softball Complex on Saturday. Lombardi, who had two hits and four runs batted in on the day, could not fight back a smile after the win.
“[Fullerton is] a really tough team, and we have that rivalry with them, so it was really nice to come out and take that first win,” Lombardi said.
Both starters got off to strong starts. Clermont didn’t give up a hit until the top of the third when Titans leadoff hitter Samantha Galarza singled.
Freshman outfielder Samantha Vandiver drove Galarza in to score three batters later on a one-out single that was just barely out of center fielder Leilani Tupua-Tautalatasi’s reach. Clermont escaped the inning without giving up further damage.
“[Clermont] is a really great pitcher,” Lombardi said. “Even when her pitches aren’t quite on, she still gets the job done. Today was no exception. She just did what we needed.”
The 49ers’ ace went on to allow only two more hits in the next four innings and completed the game.
Long Beach State finally got on the board in the bottom of the fourth. After a pair of singles by junior Haley Tobler and Lauren Lombardi, LBSU’s all-time home run leader Darian Tautalafua stepped up to the plate with a chance to knock in some runs when head coach Kim Sowder told her to do the unexpected.
“I called timeout and just told [Tautalafua] if she felt like she was going to get a pitch that she wanted to hit to go ahead and hit,” head coach Kim Sowder said. “Then I said it might be a good time to lay down a sneaky bunt.”
Tautalafua laid down a bunt, catching everyone on Fullerton off-guard. Titan’s catcher Kylie Padilla panicked and threw the ball over the first baseman’s head, allowing Tobler to score from second and tie the game.
Freshman outfielder Summer Pohl stepped up two batters later and hit an RBI single that brought in Lombardi to give the 49ers the lead. However, the biggest hit of the game was yet to come.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, LBSU managed to load the bases for Lauren Lombardi. Lombardi crushed a ball over the left field scoreboard for a grand slam.
“The first thing that’s going to come into anyone’s mind is, ‘one out, I gotta get a big hit here,’” Lombardi said. “I just kept it collected up there and knew we just need to score the runs and it just came.”
LBSU will wrap up its series with Fullerton in a doubleheader on Wednesday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. at the 49er Softball Complex. The games will be televised on ESPNU.