King City’s Malaya Carrillo succeeds both in the pitching circle and at bat, hitting a walk-off home run in the Mustangs’ 7-6 win against Gonzales on March 18. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

SALINAS VALLEY — After 11 straight games on the road, the King City Mustangs softball team returned home to their rival, Gonzales Spartans, which ended dramatically. 

Entering last Friday’s game, both King City and Gonzales were on losing streaks after winning consecutive games in a row.

“We came back at the right time,” said King City Head Softball Coach Artie Carrillo. “These are the two top South County teams that battle it out. I have nothing but respect for them.” 

The Lady Spartans didn’t waste any time getting their first run of the game, when Aneessa Sandavol hit a solo home run to start the March 18 match. Sandavol leads the Spartans in home runs.

This year the Lady Mustangs are depending on two talented sophomores, third baseman Lisa Villanueva and pitcher Malaya Carrillo. Villanueva, who leads the team in most of the hitting category, drove in a runner to tie the game at 1-1 in the first inning.

Gonzales hit two home runs in their 7-6 loss to King City on March 18. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

Through the first three innings, Carrillo’s only mistake made at that point was the solo home run to start the game. But that didn’t last when Gonzales Spartans’ Angelina Navarro hit her first home run of the season to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning.

In three of four King City losses this season, teams have put up four to five runs in an inning, which put the game out of reach even with their bats coming through this season. The Lady Spartans put up four run-ins at the top of the fifth inning to take the lead 6-2.

Gonzales player Celeste Camarena had three hits, and leads the Lady Spartans in hits this season.

The Lady Spartans’ pitching staff was able to keep the Mustangs from having that breakout inning that they had all season in the first six innings. 

Villanueva didn’t have a hard time at the plate as she crushed her sixth home run of the season to close the Mustangs’ deficit to three in the bottom of the fifth.

“It was in the perfect spot for me,” Villanueva said. “I felt it off my bat and I knew it was gone.”

King City was able to score four runs in the final inning to beat Gonzales, 7-6. (Jason Gallardo/Staff)

In the top of the seventh, Gonzales had runners on base and were trying to put the game out of reach. But the Mustangs’ defense made a huge play, as first baseman Julia Mendez tagged one runner out and threw out a runner trying to score.

Going into the bottom of the seventh, King City was down 6-3 and needed to score at least three runs to tie or four to win. The Lady Mustangs’ bats would end up getting the big inning they needed.

This season the Mustangs have scored four or more runs in an inning 11 times. 

With runners on base, King City’s Kayla Tankersley brought in one of her teammates to get her 16th RBI of the season, cutting the Spartans’ lead to 6-4. Tankersley is second on the team in hits and home runs.

Carrillo was then up to bat, and hit the ball over the centerfielder that allowed the King City runners on second and third base to score. A miscommunication by the Gonzales defense, however, also gave her time to come around and score inside the park home run, ending with the Mustangs on top, 7-6.

“I was just desperate to get a hit,” Carrillo said. 

Carrillo finished with three RBIs and got the win on the mound to improve her record to 9-3. 

Next, King City played Alisal and Gonzales hosted Monte Vista Christian on Tuesday, both of which were after press deadlines.

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Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.


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