TRACY — Games with Kimball haven’t been easy for Sierra.
Even with an eight-run lead.
The Timberwolves held on for an 8-4 victory Friday to improve to 7-1 against the third-year club. It was their largest margin of victory against the talented Jaguars (5-3 Valley Oak League, 13-6 overall), who committed two infield errors to spot Sierra 4-0 lead in the first.
“They’re always tough. That’s a team that’s going to fight until the last out,” Sierra coach Nick Olmo said. “It came down to those early errors that we capitalized on. That was the difference of the game.”
Sierra (8-2, 17-2) further backed Kimball into the ropes in the fourth, when Devi Coglio (2 for 4, 2 runs) roped an RBI single and Allie Walljasper followed with a three-run jack to straightaway center.
Walljasper later laced a sharp single up the middle in the seventh. The Timberwolves were able to jump on crafty freshman pitcher Samantha Sarmiento this time around after she stumped them in their previous meeting. Sierra needed a three-run sixth inning to surge past Sarmiento and the Jags 3-1 on March 26.
“That pitcher has had my number with those changeups, so (hitting the home run) felt real good,” Walljasper said. “I saw it, waited for it and drove it.”
Walljasper herself had to battle from the chalked circle. She struck out 11 but gave up seven hits, hit four batters and walked one. Danielle Lallos spearheaded Kimball’s comeback attempt, going 2 for 4 with a sun-aided triple, solo homer and three RBIs. Her triple capped the Jaguars’ three-run, two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth.
The Jaguars left 11 runners stranded, and nine of them were in scoring position. The tone was set early, as they came away empty handed after loading the bases with no out in their half of the first. Sarmiento clubbed a double to put runners on second and third in the final inning. Walljasper got out of it with a strikeout and a popup to third.
“They can definitely come back from a big (deficit); they’re a great hitting team,” Walljasper said. “I threw some mistake pitches and they capitalized today.”
Sierra did well to repel Kimball’s late threats while playing through three errors and various ailments to different players. Starting first baseman Iyana Hughes and catcher Lexus Barnes, both ill, were subbed out and returned to the game. Kendelle Messersmith, who replaced Hughes, left with a sore back after stumbling over the mesh fence while chasing Lallos’ home run ball.
“I’m really proud of the team for sticking through it,” Walljasper said. “I was trying to pitch my heart out there just to get that win so that everyone can go home, relax and heal themselves.”
It was an important win for Sierra, which is part of a five-team race for three Sac-Joaquin Section playoff spots. By sweeping Kimball in league, the Timberwolves own a tiebreaking advantage if it comes down to these two teams for a berth.
“This was huge. We have to continue to keep playing clean ball if we want to stay in this,” Olmo said. “It’s just a matter of us taking care of business and winning the games that we need to win.”