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Heartbreak for T-Girls who can’t hold lead

Brianna Swihart of Alhambra pulled a three-run homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning to give the Lady Bulldogs a walkoff 6-5 win over stunned Petaluma in the second round of the North Coast Section Division II softball playoffs on Monday.

The host Dogs fell behind the T-Girls, 5-3, in the top of the frame when the Petaluma underdogs scored twice on a clutch double into the right field ally by shortstop Mandy O’Keefe. The sharply hit line drive plated Indya Smith and Kaleigh Pate, and gave Petaluma hopes of getting through the final inning with a victory.

It was not to be.

No. 3 seeded Alhambra got a couple of lead-off base runners on a hit batter and walk by T-girl pitcher Rachael Bles. Following a successful bunt, the Bulldogs from Martinez needed only a base hit to tie things up.

Freshman Swihart, hitting in the No. 8 slot in the Alhambra lineup, then found a pitch above the waist, and deposited it over Pate and the fence in left field.

Until the game-winning blast, Bles tossed a very strong game, giving up no earned runs over seven frames. All previous three Alhambra runs scored on wild pitches with runners at third base.

Petaluma grabbed the advantage in the top of the sixth following a sun-aided double by the left-handed swinging Smith. O’Keefe, who had two hits on the afternoon, then ripped one off the glove of the Bulldog shortstop for a single to drive in Smith.

Petaluma made a terrific play in the bottom of the third inning. With the Bulldogs threatening, a short fly ball was lifted into right field that was grabbed on a basket catch by Mallory O’Keefe. She wheeled and gunned down an aggressive base runner at third base with a perfect throw for the double play.

Smith and Pate scored two runs each for Petaluma. Pate finished her senior campaign in a very strong fashion by playing an excellent left field and hittin .315 for the season.

Petaluma ended the season with a strong 17-8 mark and a second place finish in the Vine Valley League under coach Kurt Jastrow.

The No. 3 seeded Bulldogs earned another home date in the semifinals on Wednesday against Antioch. Antioch upset top-ranked Benicia, 4-3.

Justine DelaCruz had a pair of hits for Alhambra in the come-from-behind win over Petaluma.

Lauren King, the top pitcher in the Diablo-Foothill League, went the distance to pick up her 14th win of the season for Alhambra.

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