It took 13 innings to decide a winner of game one in the first round of the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Southern Regional playoffs that featured the No. 7 seeded Riverside City College Tigers and the No. 11 seeded Bakersfield College Renegades. After stranding 18 runners on base throughout the entire game, Riverside clutched up in the bottom of the 13th inning and pushed across the game-winning run compliments of an infield single from sophomore right fielder Dani Melendez.
Freshman Alicia Rivera got the ball rolling with one out in the bottom half of the 13th inning by knocking a base hit to left field then advanced to second on an errant throw from the Renegade's pitcher. Sophomore Karter Williams followed by lacing a single to left field to load the bases up for Melendez.
Melendez wasted no time with ducks on the pond by sticking her bat out on a ball that seemed to be a couple of inches off the outer half of the plate. She did enough to put it in play and beat out a throw, thus allowing Rivera to touch home and hand Riverside a 7-6 victory.
The Tigers were plagued by Bakersfield's ability to wiggle out of numerous jams as they stranded 18 runners on base. They looked to set the stage for a big offensive game, but beached the bases loaded twice and runners on second and third with less than two outs on three separate occasions. They were able to snap the streak with a three spot in the bottom of the fifth inning in response to a two-run top of the third inning from the Renegades.
Sophomore Danielle Lopez was a catalyst to the offensive success in the game by barreling an RBI double in the fifth inning backed by another RBI double in the bottom of the ninth when faced with the possibility of defeat.
Lopez's double in the bottom of the ninth inning defined the fight in Riverside's attack as the squad was faced with a three-run deficit entering into the inning. Melendez kicked off the inning with a bunt single and promptly scored on the double. Sophomore Jocelyn Ontiveros came through with the game-tying single to center field and tried to stretch it into a two-bagger, but she was gunned down in a pickle between second and third. However, the lengthy rundown allowed pinch runner Savannah Fowlkes to touch home and tie the contest.
Sophomore starting pitcher Lorena Fitch ended up with her 15th victory of the season and first-career postseason win. She tossed the first four innings and was lifted for freshman reliever Brianna Arroyo who pitched the following seven innings. She was then re-inserted into the circle for the final two frames of the game and successfully kept Bakersfield off the scoreboard.
Arroyo was masterful in her relief of Fitch. Despite a rough patch in the top of the ninth, she kept the game within reach for Riverside. Melendez notched one of her strongest games of the season by going 4-for-8 with an RBI and two runs scored. Freshman left fielder Loreal Fuerte recorded a season-high five hits.
Riverside will look to take the series against Bakersfield on Saturday, May 4 at 2 p.m. Follow live stats at www.rccathletics.com.