Danielle Acosta stepped into her new role nicely for the San
Benito Lady Balers on Thursday, allowing one hit and no runs en
route to a comfortable 8-0 victory over visiting Burlingame
— the season opener for both teams.
Danielle Acosta stepped into her new role nicely for the San Benito Lady Balers on Thursday, allowing one hit and no runs en route to a comfortable 8-0 victory over visiting Burlingame — the season opener for both teams.
“She’s gonna be our No. 1 (pitcher),” San Benito manager Scott Smith said of Acosta, who replaces Lady Baler Marisa Ibarra atop the hill this season. “I thought she did really good … She kept the ball down, she hit her spots, and the big thing is that she fielded the position really well.”
And as far as early-season dominance over Burlingame is concerned, Acosta continued the streak. Thursday’s win was San Benito’s fifth consecutive victory over the Panthers in the last four seasons — each win coming via shutout.
“It was kind of bad luck that she was behind Marisa (Ibarra), but it’s her time,” Smith said. “She had a great attitude about it and I think she’s gonna be a great pitcher for us.”
Acosta (7IP, 0R, 1H, 3K, 1HBP, 1BB) pitched a complete game and struck out three, and didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning when the Lady Balers already controlled an eight-run lead.
The hit, a single into right field off the bat of Sara Rice, was the first hit for the Panthers in the last three games against San Benito, as Ibarra tossed no-hitters against Burlingame in 2009 and 2008.
Acosta was just as dominant, though, getting the Panthers to go in order in every inning but the second. She hit a batter and walked a batter in that inning, but struck out one and forced two groundouts to end the threat.
Otherwise, Burlingame went 1-2-3 in each inning.
Even Rice’s single in the seventh was quickly thwarted when shortstop Jessica Vest caught a liner and threw to first base to double-up the Burlingame senior.
“I think we had a lot of questions answered today, as far as how the kids will perform,” Smith said.
And the pitching was only part of the story.
After San Benito grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning when a pitch in the dirt allowed Brittany Newman to score from third base, the Lady Balers tacked on three more runs in the third when Samantha Puentes smacked an RBI double to the left-center gap that plated Jessica Vest from second, while Brittany Hoff connected on an infield single that scored Puentes from third.
“She played outstanding,” Smith said of Puentes, a freshman who started at second base on Thursday. Puentes was 2-for-2 with a pair of walks in the game.
Following Puentes’ run scored in the third, Newman singled up the middle with two runners in scoring position. The hard-hit ball scored Jessica Steigelman from third base, but Hoff was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second.
Steigelman, apparently picking up where she left off from last year’s Central Coast Section Division I championship, crushed a ball into deep left field in the bottom half of the fifth inning. The moonshot, which came with two runners on, plated Puentes from second base, but courtesy runner Kristen Ceglia stumbled while rounding third and was tagged out at the plate as a result.
However, Steigelman, who never stopped running on the play, nearly caught up to Ceglia on the third-base path and slid into home plate just behind her. The Burlingame catcher managed to tag Ceglia, but not Steigelman, netting San Benito a 6-0 lead.
The Lady Balers added two more runs in the sixth when Jessica Vest delivered an RBI single to shallow center field, scoring Aly Ocampo, while Marissa Adame followed with a bases-loaded groundout to short that scored Paige Miguel from third.
“Hopefully we’ll keep improving and by mid-season, we’ll be tough,” Smith said.
San Benito (1-0) is off until next Saturday when it will open the Annie Lynch Memorial Circle of Champions tournament on against Live Oak. First pitch is 3 p.m. at the Salinas Sports Complex.
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