A couple of coaching moves proved to be keys to victory for the Dos Pueblos softball team in its Channel League crosstown battle with San Marcos on Friday.

The Chargers got back-to-back home runs from Bella Nuno and Riley Monroe to rally for a 5-4 win at San Marcos, handing the Royals their first league loss.

Dos Pueblos coach Mike Gerken made the decision to intentionally walk San Marcos freshman slugger Caitlyn “KK” Early three times, including once with the bases loaded, after she belted a lead-off homer in the first inning.

The move paid off for the Chargers as San Marcos was unable to fully capitalize on the free passes.

“I didn’t want any part of her, not today,” said Gerken of the decision to keep Early in check after the homer. “I haven’t seen enough of her. I have seen the news and saw she went 4 for 5 against some good pitching. You don’t walk nobodies. She is certainly something to be reckoned with, and today just wasn’t the day to reckon with her.”

San Marcos coach Jeff Swann didn’t like the move and didn’t want to talk about it.

The other key move by Gerken came in the bottom of the seventh. With two out, a runner at second and McKenzie Mendoza at the plate, Gerken noticed that his outfielders weren’t playing deep enough. Mendoza was 3 for 3, with a double, off DP pitcher Georgia Wilson.

Mendoza hit a deep fly ball to center that had Gerken and the Chargers holding their breath, but Mia Reveles was positioned in the right spot and made the catch to end game.

“Coach Val (Reveles) and I looked at each other and saw our outfielders and we said, ‘We need to get them back,’” Gerken said of the situation. We had them step back right before that pitch, and it’s a good thing we did.”

San Marcos led 3-1 after four innings, getting two runs from Early on a solo homer in the first and an intentional walk with the bases loaded in the second. The a third run came on a single from Mendoza, who drove in Kamilah Morales in the third.

Dos Pueblos’ bats came alive with two outs in the fourth. Lacy Spear reached second on an error and Reveles followed with a bunt single. The baserunners then executed a double steal and Spear scored to make a 3-2 game.

Bello Nuno came up and belted a two-run homer over the center field to put the Chargers ahead 4-3. Monroe followed with a line-drive home run to left.

“I’ve seen it every day in practice, and I knew it was going to happen,” said Gerken of the homers by Nuno and Monroe. Neither had hit a home runs this year. Today was a great day to get their first home runs of the year.”

Swann said the inning was reminiscent of innings the Royals experienced in losses against Newbury Park and Rio Mesa.

“We got to find a way to stop the bleeding in those kind of innings,” he said. “It’s happened a couple of times against really good teams. Good hitting teams will take advantage of the mistakes.”

Gigi Gritt singled home Mendoza to pull the Royals to 5-4 in the sixth inning.

Wilson, with help from her defense, finished out the game for the Chargers.

Wilson stymied the Royals’ attack in the last three innings with her glove. She made five plays to get outs, including a reaction catch of a line drive off the bat of Tiana Monaghan.

“She’s a little slower than we’re used to and we didn’t make that adjustment. Some did and some didn’t, and that’s why we had a lot of those comebackers,” said Swann.

Gerken praised the defensive play of his freshman pitcher.

“If she wasn’t a pitcher, she might be our starting shortstop or second baseman,” he said. “She is a great fielder and she fields her position very well. We have faith in her and she showed it today.”

Dos Pueblos improves to 8-2 overall and 4-1 in Channel League while San Marcos is 5-4, 3-1.

Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

— Noozhawk sports editor Barry Punzal can be reached at bpunzal@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk Sports on Twitter: @NoozhawkSports. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.