TAMPA — With his starting pitcher running on fumes and his starting catcher running a fever, Chamberlain coach Bobby Diez entered Tuesday’s game against Jefferson needing his bats more than ever.
He had to settle for breaks — fortunate ones — instead.
Senior Madison Gonzalez’s clutch hit, and two catcher interference calls, lifted the Chiefs (10-1) to a nine-inning, 3-2 victory against the Dragons (6-4). Gonzalez’s two-out blast to the gap in left-center, on a 3-2 pitch from sophomore Nikki Lopez, scored Jennie Cook to win it.
The pitch “was kind of middle in, and I just turned on it and drove it,” Gonzalez said.
It was the longest drive of the night for the Chiefs, whose six hits were far fewer than the number of runs (10.2) they were averaging entering the game. The top four hitters in Chamberlain’s order went a combined 3-for-14 against Lopez, who struck out five and walked no one.
Diez had no explanation. “That’s exactly the good question,” he said. “We don’t teach mechanics this and that. Just get comfortable, see the ball, hit the ball. That’s what you do. (Gonzalez) did it.”
The Chiefs, playing without ill starting catcher Lindsey Hagberg, took the lead in the fourth when Ellen Scott reached on a catcher interference call, moved to third on Cook’s double and scored on Gonzalez’s one-out fly to deep left.
Cook later scored when catcher Natali Morgado’s pickoff throw to third appeared to bounce off the helmet of Chiefs batter Stevie Cenal.
Jefferson tied things in the sixth on Lauren Williams’ two-out, two-run double. Chiefs starter Rachel Dwyer, who threw 123 pitches Monday in a win at Wiregrass Ranch, allowed two walks to open the inning before being replaced by Amber Fullwood.
Lopez retired nine consecutive batters before Cook was awarded first on another catcher interference call with two out in the ninth. She then stole second, setting up Gonzalez’s winner.
“I’ll take it,” Diez said. “The other side hurts worse.”