Palomar Beats San Mateo in wild finish, 2-1

Palomar Beats San Mateo in wild finish, 2-1

WALNUT, CA — After a near-perfect defensive game by both teams, Palomar scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning benefiting from key errors to defeat San Mateo, 2-1, in a winners bracket game Saturday in the 3C2A State Championships at Mt. SAC. 

With the win, Palomar (42-1) advances to the semifinals and will play Cerritos (33-14) Saturday at noon for a chance to advance to Sunday's championship game. The Bulldogs will face Sierra at 5 p.m. in an elimination game at Mt. SAC.

In the bottom of the seventh inning with San Mateo leading 1-0, Faith Steffany led off with a double to left field and advanced to third when Malachy Russell-Millen reached first on a fielding error. Itzell De Los Rios walked to load the bases which brought up sophomore catcher Ellison Hazlett. With a 2-0 count, Hazlett hit the ball to the San Mateo shortstop, who looked home but would not have had a play at home to throw out a diving Steffany. She tried to throw out Hazlett at first but overthrew the first basemen, allowing Russell-Millen to cross the plate and end the game.

The game started out as a pitchers' dual, with Palomar's India Caldwell (29-1) pitching a perfect game through the first four and third innings, before allowing a walk to San Mateo's Tori Cortez. She lost the no-hitter the next inning to the first batter, sophomore right fielder Hailey Meisenbach with a solid single up the middle. San Mateo's Siona Halwani started the game by retiring the first seven batters before a single by sophomore centerfielder Cadee Herrmann. Caldwell stuck out two batters and allowed just three hits and two walks. Halwani allowed just four hits in the game and struck out one with no walks.

Palomar got hits from Aaliyah Rivas, Steffany, Cadee Herrmann, and Hazlett. Mariah Norris and Gabrielle Perez added hits for San Mateo.

Herrmann made the defensive play of the game in the top of the fourth inning when she laid out and made an incredible diving catch to keep the Bulldogs off the bases.

San Mateo broke through with a run in the sixth inning after Leila Velasquez reached first on a fielder's choice and advanced to second on an infield ground out. Mariah Norris hit an infield single that took a tricky bounce away from the Wolverines' shortstop, allowing Velasquez to score to give the Bulldogs the opening 1-0 lead.

John M. Sherrard (3C2A)

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