MESA, AZ – Hope International was able to keep its win streak alive on Saturday, March 18, with a sweep of Benedictine-Mesa in the greater Phoenix area. The Royals continue to pile up victories and wins in a sterling start to their 2017 season – the 21-5 record now midway through the 2017 season is the best start in program history by a considerable margin.
Tori Franks (JR/Mesa, AZ) took to the circle for the start in game one and went 3.2 innings with six runs – three earned – on nine hits in a shortened outing against the Redhawks. Franks left with the lead well in hand after a prolific performance from the Royals' hitters at the plate and Alejandra Guillen (SR/Downey, CA) closed the game with 3.1 innings of two-hit, scoreless work. Guillen was unable to pick up a save because her offense performed too well for her to qualify.
The Royals opened game one with a run in the first after Crystal Cano (SR/Norwalk, CA) led off with a single, moved to third on back-to-back passed balls, and scored on a double to right center from Guillen. Mesa answered with a run in the bottom of the frame, but Jocelyn Young (SR/Reno, NV) put HIU back in front with a solo shot to lead off the second and Franks followed with a solo shot of her own to support her own cause for a 3-1 lead.
HIU blanked BMAZ in the second and exploded for four runs in the third to lead 7-1 after 2.5 innings – Guillen led off with a single, moved on an error that allowed Justice Walker (JR/Huntington Beach, CA) to reach base safely, and scored on a single from Cynthia Martinez (SR/Montebello, CA). Jaiden Cornelius (FR/Camarillo, CA) entered to run for Martinez and both runners scored on a throwing error by the Redhawks' second baseman. With Ashley Bonham (FR/Modesto, CA) safely aboard after the error, Young and Franks each put up singles to score Bonham for the final run of the frame.
BMAZ answered with a run in the bottom of the third, but the Royals' outburst was not over. Guillen led off again with a single in the fourth, moved to third on a double by Martinez, and scored after Bonham laced a two-RBI double to right center to score both runners. Young doubled Bonham in to score the Royals' third run of the fourth and then scored on a sac fly to center from Destiney Fierro (JR/Ontario, CA) for an 11-2 lead. The Redhawks would get all four of the Royals' runs back in the bottom of the inning to extend the game, but neither side would score again after the fourth and HIU walked off the field winners with an 11-6 final in game one.
Guillen took the circle to start game two and continued a marathon day with a complete-game outing, allowing two runs to score on nine hits without a walk in the ball game. Guillen finished the day with 109 pitches between the two appearances, picking up her eighth win of the year for her trouble.
After two scoreless frames the Royals broke the 0-0 tie in the third with a run scored by Cano – Cano drew a walk, took third on a single from Guillen, and scored the first run of the game on a sac fly from Walker.
The Redhawks tied the game with a single run in the bottom of the fifth, but HIU had an answer in the sixth. The Royals plated six in the frame to take the lead for good. Bonham got on with a single up the middle and was lifted on the bag for Cornelius who stole her way to second and scored after Young launched a two-run shot over the left field fence.
Franks continued the anything-you-can-do game with Young and lofted a no-doubter over the fence in center field to follow, and Samantha Molina (JR/Yorba Linda, CA) kept the party going with a double to center field. A fielder's choice would erase Molina on the basepath, but the Royals put Ally Painter (JR/La Palma, CA) and Alexza Sanchez (FR/Escondido, CA) on base before Cano paired a single with a Redhawks error to score three on the play for the 7-1 lead.
A single run in the bottom of the seventh cut the Royals' lead to five but wasn't nearly enough to overcome the free hitting clinic put on by HIU and the Royals finished the sweep with a 7-2 win in game two.
HIU has now won its last 15 in a row and is set for a GSAC showdown against Vanguard next Friday at Fullerton College. Vanguard currently sits in first in the GSAC Coaches' Poll and is atop the standings with an 8-2 conference record. HIU can claim that spot with a sweep this weekend.