Mia Faieta admitted she was a little tired.
The smile on her face was evident, as she had just spun a no-hitter, with 12 strikeouts and two walks, but California Chrome knew she had been in a big-time battle against a strong team, on a hot afternoon.
Faieta’s Cedar Grove team broke open a scoreless tie with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, and the Panthers went on to blank Midland Park in a North Jersey, Section 1, Group 1 semifinal, in Cedar Grove, 3-0.
Cedar Grove (24-5), which won its tenth straight game, will seek a second straight sectional crown and third in the last four years when it plays Hasbrouck Heights for the title on May 29.
In addition to pitching a no-hitter, Faieta also doubled home Jules Cicala, who had led off the bottom of the sixth with a classic opposite field triple, for the game’s first run. Brittany Taylor and Kelly Toomey would follow with run-scoring hits, which gave Cedar Grove more than it needed to win. Afterward, Faieta was happy with the win, but was quick to credit Midland Park.
“That’s a real good team,” said Faieta with a little sense of relief. “I mean they battled all game long. Their at-bats were tough and they played excellent defense. I had to work hard to get them out. And their pitcher was really good. That was a big win for us.”
Faieta, whose game-winning RBI came on a 2-2 pitch, almost didn’t get a chance to bat in the bottom of the sixth.
“They were thinking of pinch-hitting for me in that spot,” she said. “But then I heard them say ‘get up there’. I felt really comfortable batting in that situation, even at 2-2. I thought their pitcher might come in with a change-up. The pitch was a little bit in, I extended my arms and hit it pretty good. I wasn’t sure it was a change-up or fast ball, but I’ll take it.”
Faieta’s double was just Cedar Grove’s third hit of the game. Toomey would end the game with two hits and Ava Fernandez later singled in the sixth inning. Cedar Grove collected six hits, five of which came in the sixth inning.