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CITY SECTION CHAMPIONSHIP: EAGLE ROCK SHUT DOWN CARSON HOLDS EAGLES TO 5 HITS CARSON 6, EAGLE ROCK 1.

Byline: Gerry Gittelson Staff Writer

SOUTH GATE - Eagle Rock High barely arrived in time for its City Championship softball semifinal at South Gate Park after the team bus got lost and also had mechanical problems.

Then things really got bad.

The Eagles dug an early hole by giving up four runs, two unearned, in the third inning, eventually stranding nine baserunners in Tuesday's 6-1 loss to Carson.

The defeat cost Eagle Rock (21-6) a chance to qualify for its first softball final in the school's 74-year history.

``Well, this wasn't our best day,'' said pitcher Melissa McGillivray (20-5). ``People always say whoever makes the least mistakes wins, and we just didn't execute well. I really think we could have beat this team.''

Down 1-0 with runners on second and third and two out in the third inning, Eagle Rock left fielder Evelyn Cruz mishandled Christina Somera's bouncing single, allowing Somera to come all the way home to give Carson (24-5) a 4-0 lead.

The way Carson's Nicole Sander was pitching, four runs might as well have been 40. Sander (13-2), a senior right-hander, held Eagle Rock to two singles over the last 4 1/3 innings, finishing with a five-hitter and six strikeouts. She was also 2 for 4 with a ground-rule double and two runs scored.

``If we didn't make that key error, it could have been a whole different ballgame,'' said cleanup hitter Christina Kula, tears streaming down her face. ``Plus, we had a lot of runners on base that we couldn't get in, and that was a big factor. I could have done better myself, too.''

Kula, who entered with six home runs and a .343 average, was 0 for 3 including two strikeouts with runners in scoring position.

``We just missed our opportunities and didn't hit when we were supposed to,'' coach Gary Kuniyuki said. ``I think we had a good chance and I'm proud of my team because we never gave up. We'll be back.''

Eagle Rock's Veronica Lopez singled in Natlie Kula - Lopez's 45th RBI of the season - in the third.

``She's a battler,'' Kuniyuki said.

The Colts, who make their third straight appearance in the final against San Pedro (26-3) Tuesday at UCLA, added two runs in the seventh on Alice Adame's two-run single.

McGillivray, just 5-foot-1 and without an overpowering fastball, hung tough. She gave up 11 hits but stranded six runners in scoring position.

--Birmingham 5, Fremont 4: Melissa Santana (11-5) pitched five strong innings and drove in the go-ahead run with a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning at South Gate Park, carrying the Patriots (21-10) into Tuesday's Invitational championship against Narbonne at UCLA.

``I don't think anyone showed us respect this year, but it feels great to be going to UCLA,'' Santana said. ``We've come a long way, and I think we can win it all this year.''

Freshman reliever Pauline Morquecho registered her second save, ending the game with a strikeout with the tying run on third base.

``This is fun. The whole school has come together to back this team,'' coach Jim Rose said. ``We only have one senior, so who knows how good we're gonna be?''

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo: Christina Kula and Eagle Rock stranded nine baserunners in the loss to Carson on Tuesday.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 16, 2001
Words:556
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