The article below originally appeared on MercuryNews.com and is being reprinted with permission.
That was close.
After blowing the lead in the top of the seventh, College of San Mateo used a four-run rally to advance past its Super Regional on Sunday with a 7-6 victory over San Joaquin Delta.
“We just have to fight out until the last out is made,” CSM coach Nicole Borg said. “And they did.”
CSM (42-2), the top-ranked team in Northern California, advanced to the state softball championships, which will be held this weekend at Bakersfield College.
But the Bulldogs nearly faced elimination as Delta (32-14) erased a 3-2 deficit by drawing a bases-loaded walk, then crushed a three-run homer with two outs in the top of the seventh.
“It’s been crazy, but we still have one goal and that’s to win state,” CSM first baseman Melina Rodriguez said. “We’re focused on only that goal and we’re working really hard. These games are nerve-wracking, but we’re a fighting team.”
Rodriguez, who went 4 for 4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle, singled up the middle to load the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
The next hitter, Brooke Ramsey, swung on the first offering and sliced a triple just out of the reach of the diving right fielder that cleared the bases to tie the game.
“It’s what I wanted, it’s the pitch that I expected,” Ramsey said. “And I knew that I wanted to go opposite field, it scores runs. It was the perfect pitch outside for me, so I got to it.”
Ramsey was 0 for 2 with a sacrifice bunt up to that point.
“I walked up to Brooke and said, ‘It doesn’t matter what you’ve done all day. All that matters is what you do right now,’ ” Borg said. “And, hey, triple down the line. I’ll take it.”
Sprinting home to tie the game was Rodriguez, who got a good read of the ball.
“There was no stopping,” Rodriguez said. “Right when I seen it get past the girl, I just pretended like there was a dog chasing me and I just ran after that.”
“That’s a great explanation of what she needed to do,” Borg said. “I told her to unhook the trailer on the play before. She’s not slow, that kid can run. It’s just a matter of getting it going.”
Delta loaded the bases with back-to-back intentional walks, bringing CSM’s No. 9 hitter to the plate.
The move failed to pay dividend as Taylor Cruse hit a chopper to the third baseman, who dove to her left before turning and skipping a throw to home plate. The catcher was unable to cleanly secure the ball as Ramsey slid safely feet first for the game-winning run.
“That play that third baseman made was amazing,” Ramsey said. “But I was gonna go and it was going to be a battle as to who got there first.”
CSM trailed 2-0 entering the bottom of the fourth, when Rodriguez hit a two-run homer. Raquel Martinez then gave the Bulldogs a 3-2 lead on a single to center field with two outs.
It’s the second year in a row the Bulldogs advanced to the state championships, where they will face Mt. San Antonio College (37-8) on Friday at 5:30 p.m.
“It’s our time,” Ramsey said. “We practiced for this, we worked hard for this and when it comes down to it we really got the heart to win it.”