FREER — For at least one more week, Santa Gertrudis Academy will defend its Class 3A state title.
The Lady Lions used a pair of three-run homers from Clarissa De Los Santos and Jackie Garza to earn a series-clinching 8-4 win over Lyford in Game 2 of their regional quarterfinal series Saturday.
The Lady Lions completed a sweep, adding the win to their 6-3 win in Game 1 on Friday night. Santa Gertrudis will advance to the Sweet 16 and face Hallettsville.
“Much credit to their pitcher, she has a great riseball, and we did start off a little slow, our bats were in a slump,” Lyford coach Joey Rios said. “But we buckled down and wanted to finish, and we had outs to work with. We scored four runs in the sixth inning, but they made the plays when they needed to, and much credit to them.”
After two scoreless innings, junior pitcher Jerrica Rojas walked the first two batters and, after a strikeout, De Los Santos swatted a three-run home run that broke the scoreless tie.
De Los Santos wasn’t done. The righty retired the first 10 batters she faced until surrendering an infield single to Alyssa Garcia in the fourth inning. De Los Santos went the distance and gave up four hits, with four strikeouts, one hit batsman and no walks.
During the fifth inning, Rojas walked the leadoff batter and gave up a single with no outs. Garza added to the SGA lead with the team’s second three-run blast, breaking open the game at 6-0.
“Today was the same situation as Game 1,” Rios said. “The second homer, we walked one and they got a runner on off a bunt, and that one pitch was low and in and she managed to carry it to right center, and it was a tough one.”
Rojas, who threw a complete game Friday night, threw four innings Saturday and was chased during the fifth inning after surrendering the three-run homer to Garza.
“Much credit to Jerrica, she pitched a complete game last night and she felt good coming into today,” Rios said of his ace. “We knew we had Mia (Wetgrove), and she is a freshman and we didn’t want to put her in a pressure spot right away. We eased her into the game, and she did well for us.”
The Lady Bulldogs put up a four-run sixth inning and got as close as 6-4. Hannah Garza got the late rally going with a one-out double and later scored on a sacrifice fly. Tiffani Alaniz later drove in the fourth run of the inning on an RBI double.
Lyford ends its season at 34-2, with its only losses coming against the Lady Lions. The Lady Bulldogs will graduate two seniors and, with a team that is sophomore and freshman heavy, Lyford will be in good shape for the next couple of years.
“We are losing two great young ladies, but we are getting everyone back,” Rios said. “We have a great group of freshmen along with a strong group of sophomores and juniors. It is going to be very interesting for us, and the kids know the standard. This is a stepping stone for us, and come the playoffs everyone will compete.”