SFT: Uyesaka’s bat, Gulvin’s arm lead DP to quarterfinal win

Dos Pueblos starter Veronika Gulvin struck out 14 and allowed only two hits.

Dos Pueblos starter Veronika Gulvin struck out 14 and allowed only two hits.

Kai Uyesaka belted a two-run homer in the first inning, and that’s all the scoring the Dos Pueblos softball team needed as Veronika Gulvin struck out 14 and allowed only two hits in a 2-1 victory in a CIF Division 4 quarterfinal game in San Bernardino on Thursday.

The second-seeded Chargers (26-4) advance to the semifinals for the third straight year. They’ll play host to Torrance on Tuesday.

Lead-off batter Maddy Buie was hit by a pitch from Aquinas starter Allie Hotetz to start the game. Uyesaka followed with a blast to left-center field. It was the fifth homer of the playoffs for the Chargers.

Kai Uyesaka hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and that's all Dos Pueblos would need to win the CIF quarterfinal game.

Kai Uyesaka hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and that’s all Dos Pueblos would need to win the CIF quarterfinal game.

Gulvin made sure DP stayed on top the rest of the way. The UCSB-bound pitcher had a no-hitter through three innings. Zoe Casas broke it with a lead-off single in the fourth. The Florida State-bound Casas, the state’s all-time career hits leader, entered the game with a national-leading .740 batting average. Gulvin struck her out in her first at-bat, marking only the third time in Casas’ varsity career she struck out. Erica Almaraz’ sacrifice bunt advanced Casas to second but Gulvin retired the next two batters on a pop out and strike out.

“Kai’s clutch HR was enough for Gulvin to take care of the rest,” said DP coach Jon Uyesaka.

The Chargers had a chance to expand their lead in the fifth, as Buie reached base on a bunt single and Uyesaka doubled with one out. But Hotetz stepped up and struck out Lani Evans and Gulvin to end DP’s threat. Hotetz allowed six hits and struck out nine.

“Offensively, we dipped into a slump, with poor pitch selection, early timing and over striding,” Uyesaka said. “Despite leaving four runners in scoring position, and being a better hitting team in the late innings, we were shut down.”

Aquinas (23-4) didn’t go down without a fight. In the sixth, Jasmin Valenzuela drew a one-out walk and Casas was hit by a pitch. DP contested the play, claiming the batter feigned being hit. The plate umpire met with the base umpire and the base umpire said the pitch hit her.

“I don’t know how he saw it from deep shortstop position while he was watching the runner take a lead at first,” questioned Uyesaka.

After a Gulvin strikeout, Haley Bravo singled to drive in Valenzuela to make it a 2-1 game. It was the first run allowed by DP in the playoffs. And, it would be the last run scored by the Falcons as Gulvin ended the inning with a strikeout.

Gulvin retired the side in order in the seventh, striking out the last two batters.

“No one was going to touch the ball in the seventh as Gulvin saw the light and pounded the zone for a quick 1-2-3 to notch the win,” said Uyesaka.

For the semifinals, DP will be home against Torrance, a 2-1 winner over Santa Monica.  The Chargers lost in the semifinals against  Santa Monica the last two years at home.

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