Irvine, CA - Down 8-1 after two innings, Hope International pulled off a dramatic 11-8 comeback win over Vanguard in the GSAC- Cal Pac playoffs on Thursday at Concordia. Senior Janelle Medor homered in the second inning to open the scoring and Sophomore Stephanie Froussine drilled a two-run home run to account for the game winning runs. Medor and Junior Adi Lopez both went 3-5 in the game.
After a scoreless first inning, Medor stepped into the box with one out and deposited the ball over the left field fence to open the scoring.
In the bottom of the second inning, Vanguard exploded for eight runs. Brittany Boggs opened the scoring for Vanguard with a home run of her own. Then six singles, a walk, and several Hope International miscues allowed seven more runs to score to give the Lions (34-24) an 8-1 lead.
Junior Mea Flores, who returned to action for the first time in six weeks due to an injury, started the game in the circle for Hope International. Junior Liz Gonzalez came on in relief with just one out in the second inning. Gonzalez would throw the rest of the game and spread six hits over the final six innings.
For the Royals (28-22), they started their comeback in the fifth inning when Junior Kristin Peterson singled and then stole second base. Lopez followed with a single to move Peterson up to third. Lopez stole second and when the Lions threw down to second, Peterson scored from third to make the score 8-2.
With Hope International down to their final out in the top of the seventh with two on, they woke up their bats. A single from Gonzalez loaded the bases and Sophomore Crystal Martin was hit by a pitch to drive in a run. Medor singled through the left side to score Junior Lauren Ackerson who had reached on a walk. The Medor single knocked Vanguard's Taylor Doyle from the game.
Sophomore Michelle Rivas reached on a fielding error which allowed Gonzalez to score. Peterson walked to drive home a run. Lopez singled through the right side to bring home Medor. Vanguard changed pitchers with Rachel Stalford relieving Shelby Ross. Sophomore Taylor Augino greeted Stalford with a game tying single.
The 8-8 score sent the game into extra innings after Gonzalez escaped a bases loaded jam in the seventh inning when if any run scored the game would have ended the game.
In the eighth, Ackerson started the inning out at second. On the second pitch to Froussine, she ripped a shot down the left field line that just cleared the fence while just sneaking inside the foul pole. Martin walked and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch to make the score 11-8.
After the game, Froussine stated, "I think we all came together and did our job. At first, I was trying to bunt her over but on the second pitch Coach Mark gave me the green light. I had a job to do and no matter what I had to move her over."
Interim Head Coach Mark Dupuy commented, "My women don't know how good they are and we just never quit. In regards to the green lighting Stephanie, they were adjusting already to small ball so I gave her the green light to swing away."
Vanguard was suddenly the team trying to play catch up. The Lions started with their own runner at second, Kari Bergerson reached on a fielder's choice. Taylor Hallahan dropped a single into left with Augino making a diving attempt at the catch. With some confusion on if Augino caught the ball, she got up and threw to third for one out and the Royals caught Bergerson in a run down for a double play.
Gonzalez (18-12) struck out the final batter to finish off the impressive comeback for the Royals.
The win allows the Royals to live another day in the playoffs. They will play again at 9:30 am against William Jessup on Friday at Concordia. The loss for the Lions most likely ends their season.