SFT: Chargers come up short in 10 innings, fall in CIF semifinal

Ali Milam hit a run-scoring ground-rule double in the fourth inning.

Ali Milam hit a run-scoring ground-rule double in the fourth inning. (Presidio Sports photos)

The pitching was so good in Tuesday’s CIF Division 4 softball semifinal game that hitters had a tough time getting the barrel of the bat on the ball.

Torrance High’s CeCe Da Costa managed to get it done in the 10th inning. She ripped a shot to the center-field fence to drive in Jade Arslanian from second base and lift the third-seeded Tartars to a 3-2 victory over No. 2 seed Dos Pueblos before a big crowd at Dale Okinaka Field.

For Dos Pueblos (26-5), the result marked the third straight year it’s fallen a game short of reaching the CIF Final in Irvine.

Torrance (26-9) advances to its first final since 2008. The Tartars will play top-seeded Highland for the Division 4 title on Saturday.

After taking a 2-1 lead off Torrance starter Marissa Moreno, Dos Pueblos’ offense was stymied by the pitching of Alyssa Loza, Torrance’s No. 2 hurler. She gave the Chargers fits with a high-velocity curveball. The Arizona State commit pitched six shutout innings, allowing two hits and four walks, while striking out nine.

“We don’t see that kind of speed with the curveball,” DP coach Jon Uyesaka said. . “They were throwing hard; that second pitcher just kept the ball outside. I think she had pretty good movement on it. She was really reaching for that edge of the plate.”

“She was nails,” Torrance coach Don Glavich said of Loza. “She came in to relieve Marissa. Marissa’s back tightened up and she came in and she was just dominant.”

Moreno was pulled after giving up walks to Lauren Marmo and Maddy Buie in the fifth inning.

Torrance didn’t suffer any drop-off with Loza. She actually was tougher to hit against. She finished the fifth inning by retiring the next three DP batters on two strikeouts and a pop-up in foul territory. Her bread-and-butter pitch was a curveball that spun away from the Charger hitters.

“She was definitely working it,” Glavich said. “It’s a two-way street; you got to get that umpire to give that to you, too, and he was willing.”

The Tartars tied the score at 2-2 in the sixth inning. No. 5 hitter Katelyn Christian singled to left and moved to second on a one-out single by Bridgett Shaw. Britny Jumalon followed with a single to right. Right fielder Milam threw the ball in quickly, and DP tried to pick off Shaw who was scrambling back to second base. The throw, however, got away and Christian scored the tying run.

Torrance still had two runners on with one out, but DP starter Veronika Gulvin kept her poise and struck out the next two batters.

Dos Pueblos' Lauren Marmo beats the tag from Torrance shortstop Jade Arslanian for a stolen base.

Dos Pueblos’ Lauren Marmo beats the tag from Torrance shortstop Jade Arslanian for a stolen base.

The UCSB-bound Gulvin went the distance, allowing two runs, 10 hits and one walk, while striking out 12.

“She did a terrific job against us, working herself out of jams,” said Glavich. “What I was telling our kids was we produced a lot of opportunities where we could have scored runs and she seemed to work her way out of every single one of them. To get us to go down looking — we’re not a team that likes to go down looking — something must have been working pretty good for her to fool us as much as she did.”

Gulvin said she relied on her curveball.

Torrance took a 1-0 lead off Gulvin and the Chargers in the third inning. Desiree Medina drew a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice by Erin Alvarado and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Kayla Aros came in to pinch run for Medina and scored on a flyout to center field by Kayla Yoshioka.

Dos Pueblos stranded two runners in the bottom of the third. But the Chargers got something going in the fourth. First, they made three terrific catches in the top of the inning. Milam snared two flies in right field and first baseman Lani Evans made a shoestring catch in foul territory. At the plate, Milam crushed a ball to right field for a ground-rule double to drive in pinch runner Janet Salas to tie the score at 1-1. Jade Sinskul singled to drive in Milam for a 2-1 DP lead.

“Ali was due for something,” Uyesaka said of Milam’s blast. “It was good timing for her. She hits the ball hard. I was hoping it was going to carry (out of the park).”

Torrance put two runners on with one out in the fifth, but Gulvin rose to the occasion and struck out the next two batters.

After the Tarters tied the score in the sixth, Gulvin and Loza took over the game.

Then Arslanian opened the 10th with a single after two strikes.

“She’s a phenomenal two-strike hitter, probably the best we’ve ever had. I actually think she hits better with two strikes,” said Glavich.

Gulvin struck out Loza and got Christian to hit a comebacker for the second out before Da Costa stroked her big hit to center.

“She packs a pretty potent punch,” said Glavich.

“We had chances,” Uyesaka said. “We had big hitters in the lineup that came up a couple of times in extra innings that just didn’t get the bat on the ball very well.”

Uyesaka said he felt for the seniors.

“The saddest thing is getting this far three times and knocking on the door,” he said. “I feel bad for the seniors because they’ve put in a lot of work this year. The focus throughout the whole year was to build, get all the other players on the same page in terms of effort at practice. They were a great group leading practices and being the example. Hopefully, that’s going to carry over in the program. They set a precedent for the program to finish this well three years in a row. I’m going to miss them. I’m sorry we couldn’t get there.”

Torrance…001 001 000 1 — 3 10 1
Dos Pueblos…000 200 000 0 — 2 7 2

Moreno, Loza (5) and Jumalon; Gulvin; Sinskul. W—Loza. L—Gulvin