Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Caleb Bertoncini slides in safely to score a run Friday in a 6-4 loss to Sanger as Sanger catcher Jose Quinonez chases an errant throw.
When the Madera South Stallions baseball team enters the Div. III playoffs in a couple of weeks, they know they had chances to win games in the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
Two days after allowing the Apaches to score five unanswered runs for a 5-3 victory in Sanger, the Apaches scored two runs in the second and three runs in the fourth for a 6-4 victory Friday at Eddie Chapa Field.
“We don’t ever stop battling,” head coach Bobby Waits said. “Every time we have a disappointing loss, we’re going to keep fighting. You’re going to have to get all 21 outs against us. We’re not going to give in. That’s taken over the years for them to learn to do that. I tell them no one is battle tested as we are. It’s going to benefit us when we get into the playoffs.”
Starting pitcher Manny Nunez left too many pitches up in the strike zone and was tagged for 10 hits and five runs over the first four innings.
“We have to continue to stay down in the zone,” Waits said. “If we elevate the ball, you are asking for guys to hit the ball hard. You have to find out where the bottom of his zone is and have to stay down there.”
Caleb Bertoncini allowed one run over the final three innings, but didn’t mow down the Apaches, allowing five hits through the gusting winds.
“They are a good hitting team,” Waits said. “As an ex-pitcher, you have a lot of wind and it affects your off-speed pitches. You have to finish your change-up. A couple of times, we threw a change-up and left it high.”
Madera South looked like they were going to have the upper hand scoring two runs in the bottom of the first.
Oscar Reyes led off with a single to left. Josh Conigliaro sacrificed him to second. After a walk to Bertoncini, Reyes scored on a wild pitch and Bertoncini scored on Nunez’s single to right.
However, Sanger came back in the top of second inning, banging out two runs on five hits. Nunez got a flyout to center and a grounder back to the box with the bases loaded.
Sanger got a single, run-scoring triple and a two-run single to open a 5-2 lead in the fourth inning.
Madera South got itself back into the ball game in the fifth inning. Conigliaro reached on an error and went to second on a Bertoncini single.
Juan Carlos Gonzales singled to left to drive in Conigliaro. After a flyout and a strikeout, Jiovanni Saavedra singled up the middle to drive in Bertoncini to cut the Sanger lead to 5-4.
The Apaches scored an insurance run in the sixth on two singles, a fielder’s choice and a run-scoring single by Zack Juarique, his fourth hit and third RBI of the game.
Madera wouldn’t go down quietly in the bottom of the seventh. Bertoncini led off with a single to right-center. Gonzales followed with another single to right center. Both runners advanced 90 feet to put the game-tying run at second.
Sanger reliever Jaime Pacheco settled down and got a lineout and two strikeouts to end the game with a 6-4 victory.
Madera tries to right the ship this week. They hosted San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno on Tuesday and play again at SJM on Friday.