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Los Alamitos Rallies to Defeat Marina, 2-1


For four innings Thursday, Heather Hagen sailed through the Los Alamitos lineup. She retired 12 of the first 13 batters, her only mistake a two-out walk in the second inning. She had a lead and she had momentum. Then the game got away from her.

Seventh-ranked Los Alamitos strung together four hits in the fifth inning to beat Marina, 2-1, and clinch a share of its first Sunset League title.

Los Alamitos improved to 18-5, 8-0 in league. It's the Griffins' first league title since 1994, when they left the Empire League as the three-time defending champion. Second-place Marina (13-9-1, 6-2) is two games back with two to play. Los Alamitos won the last meeting, 1-0, in 10 innings.

It turned out to be a terrific 18th birthday for Los Alamitos pitcher Mandy Rockwell (9-4), who gave up two hits and struck out nine. Both hits came in the second inning as Marina took a 1-0 lead.

Hagen hit a hard fly ball over right fielder Angelina Herrera, who had trouble settling under it because of strong wind. It dropped for a leadoff double. After a sacrifice bunt, Steffany Steinglein singled through the right side of a drawn-in infield.

That seemed to be enough for Hagen (9-3), whose earned-run average was 0.27. But Kristi Bissonnette beat out a slow roller to shortstop for an infield hit leading off the fifth inning.

"We came out flat, not mentally prepared," Los Alamitos Coach Jami Shannon said. "We needed something to inspire us, and when Kristi got the infield single, it sparked us."

A sacrifice, a walk and fielder's choice put runners on first and second base with two outs. Andrea Castillo's line drive to center field loaded the bases, then Kristin Farber's liner to left field scored Dinha Mead. Brooke Donberg followed with a ground ball single to right field, driving in Rockwell, but Castillo was out trying to score from second base.

Farber's single, caught on a short-hop by left fielder Laura Hernandez, was the key play.

"We had the force out at third base, but with no coverage," said Marina Coach Shelly Luth, whose infielders on the left side are sophomores and on the right side are freshmen. "That's inexperience. Once the ball is not bunted, you have to get back to the bag."

Marina has no seniors, and didn't return any starting infielders except Alicia Velazquez, who played first base last season and now is the catcher.

In other Sunset League games:

Fountain Valley 12, Edison 2 (5, mercy)--Andrea Kleckner had three hits, five RBIs and two runs for Fountain Valley (11-14, 3-5).

Huntington Beach 5, Esperanza 3--Danielle Armendariz had two hits and two runs and sisters Bryn and Jaime Kreipl each had two hits and a run for Huntington Beach (9-14, 3-5).

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