FLORENCE — The No. 14-ranked Lady Buffaloes needed a couple of sparks Monday night in a big District 25-3A tilt against Blanco, and China Galvan supplied the fire.
The junior powered two home runs for Florence, and the Lady Buffaloes defeated a feisty Lady Panthers club 13-10 to remain unbeaten in league play.
Galvan’s first homer was a three-run shot to left field that ignited an eight-run fifth inning for Florence (9-5-1, 6-0 25-3A), which took command with an 11-3 lead heading into the sixth.
“The first home run, I felt like I just needed to show my team what I was made of and what I can do to help the situation,” Galvan said.
But Blanco (13-5-3, 5-1) refused to go away, battling back to make the score 11-7 in favor of the Lady Buffaloes heading into the bottom of the sixth. That is when Galvan stepped to the plate again and sent a 2-2 pitch soaring over the wall in left for a two-run shot.
Galvan ended the evening 2 for 3 with six RBIs.
“The second home run, I just thought to myself it was going to be another one to help the team out,” Galvan said. “It’s all about the team — team, team, team. What I did with those two home runs, it was all about the team, and I’m grateful for my team.”
Florence head coach Brett Gola told the team someone needed to step up and get them going in the fifth. After the Lady Buffaloes took an early 3-0 advantage, the Lady Panthers scored three runs in the visitor’s half of the frame to tie it at 3-3.
“We kind of got punched back there and needed to return fire,” Gola said. “That was a big three-run homer that got me real fired up and got our kids going. It opened the floodgates and we were able to capitalize on it, and it was a good thing we did because they weren’t going away.”
Emily Gray got the win in the circle for Florence. The senior, still recovering from a major ankle injury suffered in the offseason, threw a complete game and gave up 10 runs — seven earned – on 14 hits and a walk while striking out 10.
Gray was also 3 for 3 at the plate with a double and an RBI.
“In all of our big games, she’s stepping up and pitching,” Gola said. “We’re seasoning our freshmen to get to where she is, but she’s a competitor. I really don’t know what else to say about her.
“She’s a great kid who goes out there and flat-out competes.”
The Lady Buffaloes scored in the bottom of the second on a passed ball that allowed Galvan to scamper home for a 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the third, Hollie Ellis drew a bases-loaded walk and Galvan hit a sacrifice fly to right field for a 3-0 cushion.
But Blanco plated three runs in the top of the fifth on a two-run double by Reyna Calzoncit and Carly Haack scored on a passed ball to knot the contest at 3-3.
Prior to Galvan’s three-run blast in the home half of the fifth, Ellis drove Lainey Stone home with an RBI single. Lexi Solis tallied an RBI single to center, Gray hit a sacrifice fly to center and Solis scored on a wild pitch to put Florence ahead 11-3.
The Lady Panthers responded with four runs in the top of the sixth on a two-run triple by Alli West, an RBI single by Haack and an RBI double by Calzoncit to make the score 11-7, Florence.
Galvan answered for the Lady Buffaloes with her sixth-inning two-run homer to make the score 13-7, and Blanco scored three runs in the top of the seventh on a bases-loaded single to center by Haack that was mishandled for an error and cleared the bases to make the score 13-10.
But Florence held on and grabbed sole possession of 25-3A.
“It’s a big win,” Gola said. “That’s a heck of a ball club over there. They adjusted, hit the ball well and fielded it well.
“It doesn’t matter when it is, Blanco is always going to give you a good game. They’ve got a bunch of good, competitive athletes. It’s a young bunch — sophomore heavy — that is only getting better. We’ve got to have our ‘A’ game when we play them.
“We had a couple big hits with some timely pitching. It was the perfect storm of everything coming together for a good team win.”
Ellis went 2 for 2 for the Lady Buffaloes with a double and two RBIs, and Solis was 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored.
Haack was 3 for 4 for the Lady Panthers with two RBIs and two runs scored, Calzoncit was 2 for 5 with two doubles and three RBIs, and West was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Florence is scheduled to host Ingram Moore on Friday at 6 p.m.