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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Kevin LabotkaThe California Pintos softball team lost a close game Sept. 21 to Knob Noster 5-4. The Pintos’ next game is at 5 p.m. Sept. 24 at Pilot Grove (1-6).

The California Pintos softball team (9-4) lost a close game Sept. 21 to Knob Noster, falling to the Panthers 5-4. The Pintos almost completed the comeback, after trailing 5-2 by the bottom of the sixth inning. After scoring two runs in the inning, California went into the seventh inning trailing by only one run. The Pintos were able to get the tying run to third base in the bottom of the seventh inning, but they were unable to get the run across home plate.

Head coach Steven Stock said the team has to play with a spark all the time.

"We finally got a little fire and spark and acted like we wanted to play ball in the fifth inning and we played real well in the last few innings, but we coasted two to three innings," Stock said.

The Pintos got on the board first — in the bottom of the second inning with two runners on second and third, Kaylena Riggs hit a single that scored both runners to give California a 2-0 lead.

Knob Noster answered back by scoring a run in the top of the third inning to make it 2-1. Then, Knob Noster tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning before taking a 5-2 lead by scoring three runs in the top of the fifth.

Stock said Knob Noster put the ball in play throughout the game, something that bit the Pintos as their opponents were able to capitalize.

"Their first run came because we simply booted the ball and did not make an out," Stock said. "If we get that out, they don't score that inning, and we let a ball get past us for another run. Simply put, this is a game where you have to catch the ball and throw the ball. If you give extra outs, the teams that are good are going to capitalize on it, and that is when you lose one-run games instead of win one-run games."

In the bottom of the sixth inning, California had runners on second and third and Ella Percival scored two runs on a base hit to make it a 5-4 game. Later in the inning, the Pintos had the bases loaded with two outs but could not tie the game.

After a scoreless top of the seventh inning, California got a runner on base after a walk by Lauren Spillars. After two bad pitches that got past Knob Noster's catcher, the tying run again was at third base with two outs. However, a pop-up ended the game.

California had some struggles at the plate, as the Pintos struck out nine times in the game. This game was only the third time this year that the Pintos scored less than five runs in a game.

"(Knob Noster) had good pitching — their pitcher was not overpowering, but her balls had some good movement on it, and we struggled," Stock said. "Like I said, we didn't get the ball in play and make productive outs in key situations. A few balls that we did hit hard. they made nice plays. You know, that's this game,. Sometimes, you don't make plays, and it leads to a run or two here, and it gets you beat. Sometimes you do everything right and hit the ball well, and they make a play, so you (have) to give credit to them. Their pitching was good, and they just beat us tonight."

The Pintos finished the game with four runs on six hits and had two errors in the game. Knob Noster scored five runs on five hits and had zero errors in the game.

The Pintos' next game is at 5 p.m. Sept. 24 at Pilot Grove (1-6).

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