The University of Redlands softball team squared off against the visiting George Fox University (OR) Bruins in a non-conference doubleheader on a gorgeous Friday at the Field of Dreams. After falling in the opener, 0-9, the Bulldogs bounced back in the second but ultimately suffered a heartbreaking 6-7 loss in nine innings.
During the second game, the Bruins looked to score in the first inning, with runners on second and third. But first-year pitcher Jocelyn Hernandez (Downey, CA) stepped up to the challenge and fanned the next two GFU batters.
This inspired the Bulldog offense to make the most of opportunity in the bottom of the frame. After a walk, an error, and a stolen base, Redlands put a run on the board off of first-year outfielder Samantha Rivas' (Whittier, CA) speedy feet, as she touched home before the tag on a fielder's choice that was unsuccessful. Senior left fielder Shandell Curtis (Upland, CA) laid down the perfect bunt for the suicide squeeze play, as senior first baseman/short stop Ursyla Baumgarten (Penngrove, CA) slid home for the Maroon and Gray's 2-0 advantage.
Redlands extended its lead to 3-0 in the second stanza when Rivas went yard for her first homerun in a Bulldog uniform.
Although GFU managed to load the bases in the top of the third, Hernandez and her defense got out of the jam with a strikeout and a fielder's choice at second base.
The Maroon and Gray kept the pressure on with another run in the third inning, as first-year third baseman Ryanna Curtis (Upland, CA) singled up the middle to plate junior Julianne Rodriguez (Thousand Oaks, CA), who pinch ran for senior designated player Lali Garza (Granite Bay, CA) after her single.
With a 4-0 lead, the Bulldogs appeared to be on cruise control, but GFU's bats finally woke up in the top of the fourth and fifth, as the Bruins pushed two across in each inning.
Tied at four apiece, Baumgarten led off the bottom of the fifth with a roping double to center field off the first pitch. However, the GFU pitcher immediately settled down and retired the next three Bulldog batters.
Junior pitcher Mika Imoto (Vista, CA) lifted Hernandez in the top of the sixth and immediately sat down the first two Bruins with strikeouts before eventually forcing a fly-out. Her defense backed her up in the seventh, with junior catcher Nova Siegel (Fairfield, CA) throwing down the would-be base-stealer for the final out.
With neither team able to break the tie, the game headed into extra innings. After placing a runner on second for the tiebreaker rule, each team mustered one run to force another inning. After earning back-to-back walks, the Bruins found a way to score twice off of a pair of singles.
Although senior short stop/right fielder Shannon Skrzynski (Pomona, CA) supplied an RBI-single to plate Siegel, the Bruins executed the subsequent fielder's choice and grabbed the final out on a pop-up for Redlands' difficult 6-7 loss.
Rivas went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and one RBI to lead the Bulldogs.
Earlier in the day, Redlands struggled to find its offense and mustered only four hits over the seven innings of the first game. In the bottom of the first, Rivas blasted off the inaugural hit of the day with a one-out single to center field before stealing second and advancing to third on an error. In the sixth inning, R. Cutis uncorked a double to left center but remained left on base.
Redlands (0-4) heads to Occidental College for the first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) doubleheader of the season on Saturday, February 17. First pitch is set for 12 noon in Eagle Rock.