Sandoval hit a grand slam in the fifth inning — a stanza that began with the Gaels (8-7) simply trying to stave off a loss via mercy rule and ended with Holy Family believing it could work its way back into the game.
"The part I really liked was we never lost our character," Gaels Coach Greg Ziomek said. "We came back, we made it respectable."
Alas, it was too little too late against the Mustangs (18-4), who built an insurmountable 10-0 lead thanks to an eight-run third inning that was a backbreaker for the young Gaels.
"They had one good inning and we made a lot of mistakes," Ziomek said. "We were setting the table for them and then they got the hits."
Vasquez starter Emily Gordon was perfect through the first three innings, largely getting the Gaels, who took second in the Horizon League, to swing at bad pitches for strikeouts or easy groundouts.
"I think at the beginning of the game, the butterflies were there," Ziomek said. "It took us a while to calm down."
But the Gaels, in large part, got patient at the plate and also used a fake-bunt approach that seemed to distract Gordon and led to her walking a batter and hitting the next two to load the bases in the fifth. Then, with two outs, she walked Gaby Diaz to push across Sam Deharo to make the score 10-1 and ensure, if nothing more, another inning.
Up stepped Sandoval, who said she had talked to her coach, who told her to adjust her swing by lowering her hands to get the bat around quicker. The change worked, as she smacked a line drive to opposite-field right that bounced past the charging right fielder and rolled past on the park's expansive field. Melanie Leyva, Mary Alvarado and Diaz all came around to score with Sandoval streaking in behind them.
"We kinda figured out this pitcher a little bit," Ziomek said. "We started setting the table."