Comets fall 5-4 in championship game, finish 2nd in state

The Comets pose with their state tournament second-place trophy. (Richard Quinton Photo)
The Comets pose with their state tournament second-place trophy. (Richard Quinton Photo)

MT. SAC 5, PALOMAR 4 -- BOXSCORE

WALNUT (5-20-2018) -- In an epic finish to a season in which by far the best two teams in the state were the final two remaining in the eight-team bracket on the final day, tournament host Mt. SAC edged Palomar 5-4 in the CCCAA State championship game on Sunday afternoon.

The Mounties finished with a 41-7 record, while coach Lacey Craft's Comets concluded their season at 41-6.

This, after Palomar lost to Mt. SAC in the winners' bracket finals on Saturday afternoon, then reached the state title game with a wild walk-off 7-6 victory Saturday evening over defending state champion Cypress which was coming out of the losers' bracket.

In Sunday's CCCAA California State Championship game, Sarah Fisher, a freshman appearing in her final game as a Comet after accepting a scholarship to NCAA Division II power Colorado Christian University, went out in style in defeat. Fisher went 3-for-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI to to take home the tournament's Outstanding Hitter award after she batted .613 over five games.

Fisher, State Player of the Year began the day by smashing a massive home run over the leftfield fence on the fourth pitch of the game, giving the Comets an early 1-0 lead. And she finished the game in the top of the seventh inning when she appeared to have obviously beaten out an infield hit but was called out by the first-base umpire, preventing her from going out with a 4-for-4 performance.

She concluded the year by leading the state with a .594 batting average, 7 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs and 77 runs batted in.

Fisher was joined by Kylie Pignone, Crystal DesLauriers and Allie Hughghen on the all-tournament team. Pignone went 2-for-3 for the game and Hughen was 2-for-2.

Hughen, the Comets' ace closer who entered the game with an ERA of 0.00 and with a streak of 48 innings without allowing a run, earned or otherwise, all in relief, was pressed into action as a starter for the first time all season. In that unfamiliar role, the Mounties got to her for 5 runs, all earned, as she concluded her freshman season 3-1 with 5 saves and an ERA of 0.66. She struck out 70 batters over 53 1/3 innings in 25 appearances.

In a role reversal, ace starter and State Pitcher of the Year Alicia Garcia came on in the seventh inning to get the last two outs of the game.

Mt. SAC tied it up at 1-1 on an RBI single by Amanda Esquivel in the bottom of the second inning, the first run off Hughen all season. The Mounties then re-took the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth on Tournament MVP Michelle Santiago's sacrifice fly.

Palomar took the lead back at 4-2 in the top of the fifth when Garcia slugged a 3-run home run over the leftfield fence, scoring Jillian Zaamora, aboard on a walk, and Fisher, who had reached base on a single.

Vickie Gutierrez finished off the scoring and, as it turned out, the Comets with a 3-run home run, to leftfield, with one out in the bottom of the sixth.

Palomar was seeking its sixth state championship. Mt. SAC won its fifth state title.

Only Cypress, the unbeaten 2017 champion whom the Comets bounced out of the tournament in an elimination game on Saturday evening, has won more state titles, nine.