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It's a Replay for Rights to No. 1 : South Gate Roadblock Stops Verdugo Hills

City 3-A: Dons have runner tagged out at home on last play of game and lose to Rams, 2-1.


SOUTH GATE — Verdugo Hills High was knocked out of the playoffs, 2-1, by South Gate after missing a chance to force extra innings in the City Section 3-A Division softball semifinals Tuesday at South Gate Park.

Pinch-runner Chey Searcy was tagged out at the plate by South Gate catcher Patty Espinosa while trying to score from second base on a single to right field by designated hitter Rhiana Slimak on the last play of the game.

Searcy, running for Jill Harmeyer after a two-out double, was waved home by Verdugo Hills Coach Andrea Standley. A perfect one-hop throw from right-fielder Annette Laragaespada allowed Espinosa to block the plate.

"I thought they made a great play," Standley said. "I wanted to make them make that play, and they did, so they deserved to win it. If it has to end, why not on a play like that?"

The Dons (23-4), who defeated the Rams (19-5) in last year's 3-A final, saw things go awry because of the South Gate catcher even before Espinosa's final play.

Verdugo Hills took a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Rian Standley singled, moved to second when Gaby Robles was hit by a pitch, stole third and scored on a ground out by Jeanise Smith.

The lead stood until the fourth, when South Gate's Belinda Vargas drew a walk off Kim Wood (19-4) and scored as Espinosa tripled to right field.

Espinosa, a sophomore, broke the tie in the sixth inning, when she hit a well-placed single to drive in pitcher Candace Esquivel (17-1).

Esquivel got aboard on a two-base throwing error to lead off the inning. She took third on a groundout and scored when the Verdugo Hills outfield backed up for Espinosa, only to have her hit behind second baseman Smith and in front of right-fielder Bernie Bell.

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