Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Caleb Bertoncini throws a pitch during Wednesday’s victory over Lemoore. Bertoncini struck out a school record 16 batters over just six innings of work.
Madera South Stallions pitcher Caleb Bertoncini was so dominant on the mound, he only allowed six balls in play during an 8-3 victory over the Lemoore Tigers in the Central Valley Classic.
Bertoncini struck out a school record 16 batters, seven looking and nine swinging, through just six innings of work. He threw first pitch strikes to 19 of 25 batters (76 percent) and allowed two unearned runs with two walks and a hit batter.
“The game plan was to get ahead with a first pitch strike,” Bertoncini said. “I felt like I was ahead on every batter and that helps set up my other pitches. My curveball was good all night.”
“He just gets better and better,” head coach Bobby Waits said. “He works really hard at what he does. He’s a great team leader. Every time I know he’s starting on the mound, he gives us a great chance to win. I’m kind of grateful he didn’t put more balls in play the way it was going, at least with the balls in the air. Saturday, we couldn’t field the ball on the ground and today, we couldn’t catch the ball in the air. Hopefully, we got that out of the way.”
The Stallions committed three errors, two on pop flies that resulted in two unearned runs.
Carlos Gonzales was the only Stallion with more than one hit. He was also one of four Stallions with two RBIs (Peyton Kragie, Bertoncini and Alonzo Tovar).
“I know we have good hitters,” Waits said. “We have to fine-tune our defense more. We need other pitchers, besides Carlos and Caleb, to step up and perform so we can get deeper. We’re going in the right direction.”
Lemoore opened the game with a triple, but Bertoncini struck out the side and the following four batters in a row.
Madera South got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. Jeremy Flores led off with a single and stole second. Kragie drew a walk, but Bertoncini bounced into a double play.
Gonzales followed with a line drive single to right to drive in Kragie for a 1-0 lead.
The Stallions had a runner hit third base in the second and couldn’t drive him in.
The Tigers took the lead, albeit briefly, with two runs in the third without a hit. Bertoncini walked the lead off batter and threw a wild pickoff throw to move the runner to second. A passed ball put the runner at third.
Another walk and stolen base put runners at second and third with one out. Bertoncini got a strikeout and looked to get out of the inning with a fly ball to shallow right. However, the ball fell off the glove of the right fielder and two Tigers came in to score for a 3-2 lead.
The Stallions battled back with a two out rally and nobody on base the next half inning. Bertoncini started the rally with a walk. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Gonzales’ single to right. Gonzales advanced to second on the throw and to third on a wild pitch. Tovar reached on an infield single to second and Gonzales raced home with the go-ahead run.
Meanwhile, Bertoncini was rolling. He struck out seven of the final nine batters to leave the game after six innings with the lead.
The Stallions added to their lead in the fourth. Jalen Gray led off by reaching on an error. After a balk call and a strikeout, Ramon Uribe drew a walk. Flores followed with another walk to load the bases.
Kragie tried to bunt the run home, but Gray was forced out at the plate for the second out.
Bertoncini lined a single over the shortstop’s head to drive in Uribe and Kragie to open a 5-2 lead.
Gonzales walked and Tovar was hit by a pitch to drive in Kragie to open a four-run lead.
Madera South put the game away in the fifth. Gray led off the inning with a single up the middle. After a strikeout, Uribe reached on a bunt single. Flores loaded the bases with his second walk of the game. Kragie followed with a liner into right-center to drive in Gray and Uribe for an 8-2 lead.
Frank Chavira allowed a run on a hit and two walks in the seventh in relief of Bertoncini for the 8-3 victory.
The Stallions are scheduled to play at Selma at 6 p.m. today, weather permitting.