Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South pitcher Jiovanni Saavedra throws a pitch during a complete gave victory over Hoover on Tuesday.
Despite getting to play at their home park twice in the three-week Fowler Tournament, the Madera South Stallions picked up a pair of wins this week to head to tonight’s championship game at Fowler at 6 p.m.
The Stallions punched their ticket to the title game with a commanding 16-2 victory over the Kingsburg Vikings. Earlier in the week, Madera South defeated Hoover-Fresno, 5-1.
Over the past three games, the Stallions only trotted out four pitchers — Caleb Bertoncini, Manny Nunez, Jiovanni Saavedra and Juan Carlos Gonzales. Nunez pitched twice and picked up the win Thursday, allowing two hits over four innings with six strikeouts before tiring in the fourth.
“I’ve thrown Manny quite a bit the past couple of weeks,” head coach Bobby Waits said. “He was a little bit tired. He’s coming off being sick. He still grinds. He finds a way to battle.”
By finishing the tournament 6-2, the Stallions will face fellow County/Metro Athletic Conference opponent Sanger in tonight’s championship game at Fowler, beginning at 6 p.m.
“We have Caleb, Carlos and Goethe for the championship game on Saturday,” Waits said. “Jiovanni if we need to. We have four guys ready for Saturday night. It’s a luxury to have that many arms.”
Nunez picked up the win Thursday. Saavedra tossed a complete game five-hitter in Tuesday’s win over Hoover.
“In a tournament, our pitching depth helps,” Waits said. “We’re even adding another game during the week. When you play three games a week, it’s good to have depth. Brandon Goethe is our third starter and he’s only had one opportunity. It’s good to have."
Madera South 16, Kingsburg 2
While the Stallions have a dearth in pitching, Madera South took advantage of Kingsburg’s lack of pitching depth to record its biggest win of the season.
The Stallions battered three Kingburg pitchers for 16 runs on 15 hits and drew five walks. They were also able to take advantage of Kingsburg’s seven errors that led to five unearned runs.
Meanwhile, the Stallions were adept at using the whole field. Nine of Madera South’s hits went up the middle or to the opposite field.
“We preach going the other way in practice,” Waits said. “Coach (Marcelino) Garcia does a great job with the hitters. They’ve been talking about hitting the inside half of the ball. We want to spray gap-to-gap. Tonight, they bought in to that. We had a lot of quality at-bats. Even with two strikes, we put the ball on the ground.”
Alonzo Tovar got the Stallions started with a key two-out single in the first inning that gave the Stallions the early lead they wouldn’t relinquish. After Tovar fell behind 0-2 in the count, he worked the count even before lining a two-run single to right.
“That was a big hit,” Waits said. “We were patient tonight so we didn’t chase and made the pitcher throw to us. We didn’t get deep in counts too often. The first good fastball we saw in the zone, we jumped on it. That gets the pitcher from getting ahead in the count and be able to throw offspeed things. When you jump early in the count, the pitcher is afraid of going in the zone where we were hitting the zone.”
Oscar Reyes led the Stallions with three hits. He was also one of four players to score two runs. Josh Conigliaro, Bertoncini, Saavedra and Gonzales each had two hits. Bertoncini drove in four runs and Ramon Uribe scored three times.
After Nunez struck out the side in the top of the first inning, Conigliaro got the Stallions started with a single to right. Felix Soria followed with a single to right to move Conigliaro to third. Conigliaro scored on a sacrifice fly to right from Bertoncini.
Reyes reached on an error with one out. Both runners advanced to second and third and Tovar singled to right to drive in Soria and Bertoncini for a 3-0 lead.
Madera South added a run in the second when Uribe singled up the middle. Conigliaro reached on an infield single. Soria hit a grounder to second to force out Conigliaro. The throw to try to double up Soria at first went in the dirt and Uribe scored from second base. Another throwing error allowed Soria to advance to second and a wild pickoff throw moved Soria to third. A groundout ended the inning with a 4-0 lead.
Kingsburg took advantage of Nunez’s wildness and an error to score two unearned runs. A walk, a hit batter and a throwing error drove in two Vikings to cut Madera South’s lead in half.
Madera South added three more runs in the fourth. Gonzales singled up the middle. Uribe put down a bunt that was misplayed for an error to put runners at first and second. After a groundout moved runners to second and third, Soria’s sacrifice fly drove in pinch-runner Angelo Feliu.
The Kingsburg catcher couldn’t haul in the throw for an error to move Uribe to third. Bertoncini singled past the third baseman to drive in Uribe. After a wild pitch, Reyes singled down the right field line to drive in Bertoncini for a 7-2 lead.
The Stallions put the game away with a nine-run fifth inning.
The plate umpire had a discussion with the Kingsburg coach and called the game by mercy rule after 12 batters went to the plate in the inning.
Madera South 5, Hoover 1
Saavedra led the Stallions with a complete game victory on the mound. He struck out four and scattered five hits. He erased two of those hits with pick-offs.
Meanwhile, the Stallions took advantage of three Hoover errors in the third to score four runs and break a 1-1 tie.
Conigliaro and Nunez led the Stallions with two hits each.