By BOB OTTO FOR THE VALLEY CHRONICLE
The Hemet Bulldogs caught a couple of breaks in the bottom of the eighth inning against the visiting San Jacinto Tigers in the opening game of Mountain Pass League play last Thursday.
With two out and the game tied, 2-2, Hemet’s speedy Taylor Vanzee was on first base via a fielder’s choice. Cheyenne Gandara then hit a grounder to shortstop. The ball was scooped up cleanly, but the throw to first base was low and bobbled. The umpire ruled Gandara safe. On the play, Vanzee broke for second and kept on running for third. But on the throw from first to third to catch the sliding Vanzee, the ball sailed high and down the third baseline allowing her to race home with the winning run.
Up to that point, Gandara and the Tigers’ Cheyanna Contreras were locked in a pitcher’s dual. Gandara started and pitched the entire eight innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits, along with 18 strikeouts and one walk.
Tigers’ lead-off batter Shylene Helms (2-4) greeted Gandara with a first-pitch home run to start the game, and she drove in the Tigers’ second run in the fifth inning to forge a 2-2 tie with a double that scored Contreras, who had singled.
Meanwhile, Contreras was nearly as impressive as Gandara in the pitching circle. The right-hander came on in relief in the fourth inning of starter Kaitlyn Durrett, who was injured in a collision at first base and had to leave the game. Contreras gave up just one run on two hits, three walks, and struck out seven.
Hemet scored a single run in the first inning to tie the game on Gandara’s sacrifice fly that scored Kassandra Hernandez, who had reached on a single. Gandara (2-3) again showed her prowess at the plate with a fourth inning double that plated Vanzee, who had opened the inning with a walk.
The win gives the Bulldogs a 5-6-1 overall record, 1-0 in the MPL, while the Tigers are 4-3, 0-1.