With the exception of two innings, the Sunnyside High School girls fastpitch softball team gave Ellensburg all it could handle this past Saturday.
But, the two letdowns-the fifth frame of the opening game and the sixth inning of the nightcap-both proved to be costly. Ellensburg utilized the two bad innings on the part of the Lady Grizzlies to pull out a pair of 7-4 and 9-5 Mid-Valley League victories.
"The first game," said Sunnyside Coach Kris Gonzalez, "we had a mini-meltdown in the fifth inning." Gonzalez explained that Ellensburg rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the top of the fifth, plating four unearned runs to take control of the game. The major miscue in the fifth was an outfield error that let in two runs.
The Lady Grizzlies opened the first game by plating a single tally in the first inning. Sunnyside increased its lead to 4-0 with a three-run uprising in the bottom of the second. Monique Montelongo started the second inning rally by drawing a walk, working her way around to third on a passed ball. She scampered home easily on a single by Lacey Yanez. Jessica Cruz was then issued a walk, and both she and Yanez moved up a base on a passed ball. Both Cruz and Yanez scored when Samantha Taylor's grounder to second was misplayed for an error, the only miscue Ellensburg committed in the opening game.
The Bulldogs, after taking a 6-4 lead in the fifth, added an insurance run in the sixth. Sunnyside didn't score again after the second inning.
The first game loss spoiled a fine pitching performance by Viri Pasillas, who limited the Bulldogs to just five hits. Pasillas had three strikeouts in the game.
"Viri pitched a great game," said Gonzalez. "She was hitting her spots."
Sunnyside actually outhit Ellensburg in the opener, 7 to 5. Two of the Lady Grizzlies came through with two hits apiece-Taylor, who was 2-for-4 with two singles, and Devina Martinez, who was 2-for-3 with a double in the bottom of the fifth.
Ellensburg jumped all over the Lady Grizzlies in the twin bill finale, scoring three runs in its first at-bat. Sunnyside wasted little time, though, in responding, answering with a four-run explosion of its own in the bottom half of the first.
Cruz initiated the first inning rally by laying down a bunt single, one of two hits she had in the game. She proceeded to swipe both second and third, two of the three stolen bases Cruz was credited with in the nightcap. Martinez, who turned in another two-hit performance for the Lady Grizzlies, drove in Cruz with her first single of the game. An error of the bat of Celeste Allen scored Martinez. Following a walk to Montelongo, Jenny Jones lashed a single to plate both Allen and Montelongo.
The Bulldogs came back with two runs in the top half of the third, but Sunnyside squared the contest at 5-all by plating a lone score in the bottom half of the frame.
Neither club could get much of anything going after that, that is until the top of the sixth, when the Lady Grizzlies committed three of the six errors they had in the game. The three sixth inning miscues led to four Ellensburg runs crossing the plate.
"We had those three errors, plus Ellensburg started hitting Erica (Garcia) that inning," said Gonzalez. "We couldn't come back from that."
Garcia was lifted midway through the sixth, making way for Pasillas, who finished the pitching chores for Sunnyside.
The two losses Saturday dropped Sunnyside's conference record to 0-3, 0-7 overall. The Lady Grizzlies are scheduled to take on East Valley on the Red Devils' field for a single non-league game tomorrow (Tuesday), with game time set for 4 p.m.