RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- California Baptist University answered a heartbreaking loss with a brilliant one-hit shutout Saturday afternoon, to salvage a hard fought split with first-place Dixie State.
The Lancers dropped the first game 7-6 after leading 6-5 in the seventh inning, but responded with a 4-0 win in the late game behind a complete game shutout from Jessica Avila.
The split comes less than 24 hours after CBU answered a 9-1 loss with a 4-2 win on Friday night against the same Red Storm.
“I’m proud of these girls for playing like that after losing a tough game in the opener,” said CBU Head Coach Bill Baber. “They were down, but they came back with a lot of fire and a lot of energy. The seniors start that with their attitude and their play, and they led us.”
CBU was up by as much as 6-2 in the early game, but Dixie State rallied with five runs in the final three innings to steal the win.
The Lancers had the Red Storm down to their final out, trailing 6-5 in the seventh when Johnna Brown slapped a single into right field to tie the game. Two batters later Courtney Sherwin hit the game-winning single through the right side.
In danger of becoming understandably discouraged and dropping even further behind in the PacWest standings with a third loss to the Red Storm, the Lancers rallied instead.
CBU got arguably the best pitching performance of the freshman Avila’s young career, as CBU’s ace held the potent Dixie State offense silent. After tallying 29 hits and 18 runs through the first three games, Dixie State managed just one hit and had only four base runners all game in the 4-0 Lancer win.
“Jessica is unbelievable,” said Baber of his rookie pitcher who took the loss in relief in the first game. “She could have got out of the first game with a win, but was unfortunate. Then to come back against a great hitting team like Dixie State and get that win. That was impressive.”
Rodriguez and August were each 2 for 3 in the late game after both players went 2 for 4 with two RBI in the opener.
Sloan McHann would add a solo-shot in the third to give CBU a 4-0 cushion the rest of the way.
Courtney Hine recorded the lone hit for Dixie State in the third inning.
The split moves the Lancers to 16-13 overall, 10-10 PacWest and moves the Red Storm to 25-10, 16-6. Avila moves her record to 11-7 after taking the decision in both games.
“We’ve got to keep this up and keep playing with that intensity no matter what happens like we did today,” said Baber. “We can’t have a letdown and if we can keep up the intensity, this team is dangerous.”