Kelsie Monroe was determined to keep her team in the game.
An error had helped Merced push across two runs in the second inning. Monroe then went into shutdown mode.
The right-hander gave up just two hits and recorded nine of her 11 strikeouts in the final five innings.
Meanwhile, Taylor Mendez came up with a big two-run double to tie the game for Los Banos in the fifth inning.
Los Banos then took advantage of a Merced defensive miscue in the seventh to complete a come-from-behind 3-2 win in the Central California Conference opener for both teams on Tuesday afternoon.
"I knew I couldn't give up any more runs," said Monroe, who scattered just four hits. "I have a good team behind me. I just had to focus on what I had to do. For me, it's focusing on my rotation and seeing the pitch before I throw it, and not just throwing it up there."
Monroe looked dominant at times, striking out five straight hitters during the fourth and fifth innings.
"She's a pretty special pitcher," said Los Banos coach Charlie Pikas. "She just pretty much put us on her back that last five innings.
"When she starts throwing her pitches like she can, she can be real effective."
Lindsi Cousyns pitched well for Merced (2-8 overall).
Merced jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first.
Singles by Kyley Dau and Cousyns started the rally.
With two outs, Monroe hit Hillarie Elmore with a pitch to load the bases.
Miranda Mendoza then hit a grounder up the middle, that glanced off the glove of Los Banos' Taylor Snowden that allowed pinch-runner Dominique Zuniga and Cosyns to come around and score.
Los Banos had at least one baserunner on in every inning.
Pikas' girls finally broke through in the fifth inning.
With runners on first and third and two outs, Mendez launched a ball off the center-field fence to score Samantha Fuller and Felicia Remulla to tie the game.
Mendez went 2 for 3 before she was intentionally walked with first base open in the seventh inning.
"That was her first complete game of the year," Pikas said. "She got hit in our first game of the year.
"It was good to see her up there with the game on the line. If Kelsie is a special pitcher, Taylor is a special hitter."
Los Banos' Mayra Espitia doubled to lead off the top of the seventh inning.
One out later, Monroe hit a grounder off the glove of Dau at first base. Dau scrambled for the ball and her throw was high back to first.
As the ball rolled to the fence, Espitia raced around third to score the eventual game-winning run.
"It's the same thing for us," Merced coach Bart McAfee said. "We strikeout too much. We have to put the ball in play if we want to win games."