Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Carlos Gonzales, left, congratulates Jeremy Flores who scored the game-winning run Saturday against Selma.
With sprinkles coming down, Caleb Bertoncini doubled over the center fielder’s head to drive in Jeremy Flores to give the Madera South Stallions baseball team a walk-off victory over the Selma Bears.
Against a team that was a No. 2 seed in last year’s Div. IV baseball playoffs, the Stallions held the Bears scoreless over the final four innings before Bertoncini’s walk-off.
“It was everything I was expecting,” Madera South head coach Bobby Waits said. “I told the team that Tom Hollett does a great job with Selma. He’s been there a lot of years. Their players do things right. If you beat Selma, you earn it. I told the team this is a game you want to win if you want to be a top seed in the playoffs. This is a game that can get us over the top and no better way to win it than a walk off. I like the way our guys stayed composed in a close game with a lot of pressure. They didn’t play nervous and played with confidence.”
The Stallions banged out seven hits, including a solo home run from Carlos Gonzales and a double from Jalen Gray.
Despite a shaky performance from starter Bertoncini, Gonzales tossed four scoreless innings in relief for the win. He struck out five and allowed just two hits. Bertoncini allowed three runs, two earned, in the first three innings.
“Caleb has been pitching so much for us,” Waits said. “My plan was to get four innings from him. I was talking to him after every inning and I could tell he was gassed. He has a lot of strikeouts and a lot of pitches thrown. He manned up enough to give us three innings. I knew Carlos was still fresh from the other day and did everything I asked of him.”
Selma opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first inning. Lead-off batter J.T. Aranda, who reached base in all four plate appearances for the Bears, drew a four-pitch walk.
Aranda stole second and went to third on a groundout. Ryan Naranjo executed a perfect squeeze bunt to score Aranda.
Madera South answered in the first. Flores opened the inning with a single up the middle. He went to second on an error and to third on a sacrifice from Peyton Kragie. Bertoncini followed with a single off the shortstop’s glove to drive in Flores and tie the score.
The Stallions took the lead in the second inning. Alonzo Tovar led off with a walk. After a flyout, Frank Chavira drew a walk. The pair advanced on a passed ball. Ricky Reyes hit a slow single up the middle to drive in Tovar for a 2-1 lead.
Selma battled back to take the lead in the third inning. With one out, Aranda drew a walk and stole second. The next batter drew a walk and Aranda stole third. Aranda scored on a passed ball and Naranjo laid down another squeeze bunt to score give Selma a 3-2 lead.
With two outs in the third inning, Gonzales worked the count in his favor. He hit a 3-1 pitch over the right field fence for his first home run of the season to tie the game.
Madera South’s Gonzales and Selma’s Eddie Avalos held both teams scoreless over the next three innings.
After Gonzales kept Selma off the scoreboard in the top of the seventh, the Stallions were set up for a walk-off winner.
Stallions’ lead-off hitter Flores blooped the first pitch he saw into right field for a single. Like the first inning, Kragie sacrificed Flores to secpmd.
After a pitching change, Bertoncini worked the count into his favor. On a 2-0 pitch, he lifted the ball to center field. The ball kept carrying over the center fielder’s head for a double. Flores rounded third and scored the game-winning run for a 4-3 victory.
“It worked out great in the last inning,” Waits said. “Jeremy bloops a single into right and use Peyton, d who is a good bunter. You get Jeremy to second base and put the pressure on Selma. Do you walk Caleb to get to the guy who hit a home run against you? They chose to face Caleb and he hit one hard. He sure stayed back well and hit that thing. It was an exciting win for us.”
The Stallions will next face Firebaugh on Wednesday in Eddie Chapa Field before County/Metro Athletic Conference play begins Friday.