Heading into Saturday afternoon’s doubleheader against the St. Mary’s Gaels (9-19), Hailey Dolcini had won 13 out of her last 14 games she pitched in for the Fresno State Bulldogs.
In game one of the doubleheader, her momentum carried. Through six innings, Dolcini allowed one hit and recorded 13 strikeouts in Fresno State’s 8-0 victory.
“She’s got some really good stuff. She’s worked her butt off,” said Fresno State interim head coach Jodie Cox. “When you get strikeouts and people swing and miss quite a bit…you don’t have a ton of opportunities.”
Fresno State won the second game of the doubleheader 5-0, not allowing St. Mary’s to score once in this matchup.
In the first game, Dolcini struck out eight of the first 10 batters she faced through the first three innings (27-7, 11-1). The only base runner to get on the board for St. Mary’s (9-19) was Angelina Franco, who reached on an error in the bottom of the first.
The Bulldogs’ offense picked up the momentum in the bottom of the third inning.
Fresno State’s Alexandra Preston drew a walk to begin the bottom of the third. Aaliyah Cuevas-Iñiguez came in to pinch run for Preston and quickly stole second base, putting herself in scoring position.
Following a failed fielder’s choice by the Gaels, Fresno State’s Kaitlyn Jennings was able to reach first base before Hayleigh Galvan doubled to bring home Cuevas-Iñiguez from second base.
The Bulldogs then added one more run on the scoreboard when Jennings scored on another fielder’s choice to make it 2-0 at the end of the third inning.
“Speed kills, coaches will say speed doesn’t slump,” Cox said. “You can beat out a ground ball on the infield and having that speed, you get one double and you score two or three runs on it so it’s huge, it’s huge.”
Heading into the top of the fourth, the Gaels needed to put runs on the board.
St. Mary’s outfielder Indya Smith hit a two-out double, but Dolcini followed by striking out her tenth batter of the day to complete the shutdown inning. Smith’s double was the only hit of the game for the Gaels — the only time they had a runner in scoring position.
“My goal every game is to not let anybody touch first base,” Dolcini said. “And when they do it’s [that] they don’t get to advance especially once our offense puts up runs. Shutting it down, putting up as many zeros as you can, allow your offense to put in the work they want to.”
Headed into the bottom of the fourth, the Bulldogs’ offense came back, adding a total of two more runs onto the board and capitalizing on their speed on the bases.
Adrianna Noriega singled off St. Marys’ pitcher Eileen Perez. Noriega then stole second and Miranda Rohleder followed with a bunt single, advancing Noriega to third with no outs.
Rohleder continued the Bulldogs’ high energy by snagging second base, putting both her and Noriega in scoring position.
With back-to-back sacrifice flies, Alesia Denby and Schuylar Broussard brought home both runners ending the inning with a score of 4-0.
Making their way into the top of the fifth, the Gaels weren’t able to produce anything as Dolcini got her second straight shutdown by retiring the side.
Dolicini finished her afternoon early by striking out Jayda Alaan and Alex Casas in the top of the sixth inning.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Jennings stepped up to bat with the bases loaded. Jennings ended the game early by hitting her third home run of the season, a walkoff grand slam to end the game, 8-0, by mercy rule.
That was also Jennings’ first grand slam of her career. And she got to do it in front of a 20% capacity crowd at Margie Wright Diamond.
“It was really awesome, it’s been just special hitting home runs here at Margie Wright Diamond,” Jennings said. “Especially since this is the first time we had fans again, it was like 10 times cooler.”
After taking down the Gaels 8-0 in the first game, Fresno State completed the sweep of the doubleheader by defeating St. Mary’s 5-0 in game WaitWait, W two
Danielle Lung pitched five innings, allowing no runs and three strikeouts. Dariana Orme came in relief to finish the game, just allowing one hit through her two innings of work.
The Bulldogs got ahead early. Jennings led off the game with a single. After advancing to third, she scored on a wild pitch to get the early 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs added another run later in the inning as Miranda Rohleder grounded out to bring Keahilele Mattson home.
Adrianna Noriega had a two-run homerun and Lexie Webb hit a solo shot to left field in the victory.