Lizzy Gatto takes a hack at a pitch in the first inning of Thursday's 5-0 win over Salinas.

San Benito dominant in win over Salinas
Hollister – San Benito planned on treating Thursday’s Tri-County Athletic League showdown with fellow front-runner Salinas as a playoff game. It showed.

The Haybalers got another tremendous outing from sophomore pitcher Marisa Ibarra and enough timely hitting and aggressive baserunning to produce a convincing 5-0 win.

“I had a good feeling we’d play one of our better games today,” San Benito coach Scott Smith said. “It’s hard for Salinas to carry the momentum after beating Notre Dame.”

The Cowboys edged Notre Dame 2-1 on Tuesday to create a three-way tie for first. But Thursday’s win by the ‘Balers knocks Salinas out of the top spot and gives San Benito a strong chance to enter its May 1 showdown with the Spirits in at least a tie for first.

The ‘Balers got on the board in the first when JC Clayton hit a grounder to second. The throw to first was wild and she raced all the way around to third.

With one out, Elena Fata skied a foul popup that Salinas first baseman Emily Montanez made a sliding catch to grab and Clayton scored on the play for a 1-0 lead.

Alyssa Ashford helped add to the lead when she delivered an RBI single in the second inning to score Kelsey Russell, who was serving as a courtesy runner for catcher Ashley Perriera.

Fata hit a two-out double in the third and scored when she stole third and the throw went into left field to make it 3-0.

The ‘Balers were finally held scoreless in the fourth, but made up for it with two in the fifth. Clayton and Lizzy Gatto both drove in runs with sacrifice flies.

“Every time we have a runner at third I want us to have a plan up there and that’s to get the runner home,” Smith said. “And today we did it every time.”

The Cowboys were hoping to get a rally started when the leadoff hitter reached in the sixth. The next batter hit a hot grounder up the middle, but the shortstop Fata gloved it, quickly flipped to Clayton at second, who relayed to first for an impressive double play.

“I can’t say enough about our defense,” Smith said. “That, to me, is softball.”

Ibarra allowed only two hits, while picking up another win and shutout.

San Benito returns to action Saturday at the Watsonville Tournament. Opening round action has the ‘Balers facing Monterey at 9:15am and Santa Cruz at 1pm.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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