COSTA MESA, Calif. - Having clawed their way back from the brink of elimination to make it to the championship round, the Vanguard University Lions (46-13) hosted the William Jessup Warriors (22-19) for the final time this season. After losing to the Warriors yesterday, the Lions had the perfect opportunity to earn their revenge on the biggest stage. The Pride were able to beat the Warriors 6-2 in game one, extending the contest to game two, where they dug deep to grind out a narrow 1-0 victory. This result sees the Blue and Gold establish their undisputed dominance over the conference, as GSAC regular season and tournament champions.
Game One: Vanguard 6, William Jessup 2
Eager to capture their first ever tournament championship, the Warriors started off on the front foot with two runs in the top of the first inning. However, the Lions produced an immediate response in the bottom of the first, with Payton Ross (JR/Hughson, CA) making it a 2-1 game. Ross initially got on base after singling to center field, before running home following Samantha Shaffer (SO/Modesto, CA)'s double to right center field. The second inning remained stagnant, but the Pride were able to take the lead with three runs in the bottom of the third. Ross scored her second run of the day, while Taylor Wilson (SR/Modesto, CA) and Summer Penner (SR/Anaheim, CA) scored their first runs of the day. This 4-2 lead was extended in the bottom of the fifth inning, with Wilson and Ross scoring their second and third runs respectively. These final two runs effectively ended the contest, with the Warriors unable to produce past the opening inning. Ross led the way offensively, scoring three runs while going 2-3 at bat. On the defensive side, Britany Heinle (JR/Stockton, CA) pulled off a fine fielding performance with 11 putouts. Courtney Thornhill (FR/Hughson,CA) started on the mound, before being replaced by Kolbi Tonini (SO/Reno, NV). Tonini proved to be a shrewd substitution, conceding a total of four hits and zero runs for the win.
Game Two: Vanguard 1, William Jessup 0
With neither side unable to register a hit in the first three innings, game two was destined to be decided by the slimmest of margins. This destiny was realized in the top of the fifth inning, by the same player responsible for keeping the Lions alive against San Diego Christian. After getting on base following a bunt at the beginning of the inning, Morgan Pilbin (SO/Fallbrook, CA) had her sight set on home plate. With Emily Howard (FR/Spring Valley, CA)'s single up the middle, Pilbin dashed home for her second game-winning run in two days. The Blue and Gold's stellar defense shutout the Warriors, who were unable to score after the opening inning in game one. Vanessa Dwyer (FR/Temple City, CA) started and pitched all seven innings, limiting the opposition to two hits all game.
Next Game: NAIA National Tournament Opening Round on May 15th (Time TBD)