SELMA — After four games in the Selma Easter Classic baseball tournament, the Madera South baseball team showed, despite the age and inexperience of the team, signs of improvement and promise for the future.
Madera South played four games in the Selma Easter Classic, going 2-2. The Stallions beat the Chavez-Delano Titans 6-4 in Selma. They then defeated the Wasco Tigers at Immanuel High School in Reedley before dropping their final two games against Sierra Pacific-Hanford and Selma, 10-0 and 10-1, respectively.
Although going .500 can give the young Stallion’s some momentum, qualifying for the Division IV playoffs was the bigger goal.
“We came in and did what we wanted to do, which was to get four wins in Division IV. We entered the tournament with two and we won two games,” Madera South head coach Alan Sandoval said. “The team is playoff eligible now and we had some moments to build off, you can’t be mad about that.”
Although the Stallions’ offense had some trouble finding hits in the final two games, in the first two, the Stallions looked like a veteran team.
In game one, their small-ball game plan in the win against Chavez, saw multiple Stallions with stolen bases including Jalen Gray, who swiped bags on consecutive pitches. Madera South came out aggressive and it paid off.
“When the opportunity is there to steal bases, we are going to try and take advantage. We aren’t a team that is going to hit home runs, we’ve got a lot speed and we need to take advantage of that. When we have the chance to take a base, we have to do it, “Sandoval said Monday after defeating Chavez.
But despite the pressure on the base paths, Madera South had dominant pitching from Seth Goodrich in game one, in what was a near complete-game effort. His composure and fight on the mound kicked off the Selma Easter Classic with a bang for the Stallions.
“He pitched well, even though he didn’t have his best stuff today,” Sandoval said. “He fought out there and gave his team a win. Seth battled and that’s what good pitchers do.”
Jonathon Uribe added an RBI double, freshman Brian Monges hit an RBI triple and Bryan Malagon got on base three times, scoring a run.
In game two, a three-run bottom of the first and a strong pitching performance from Malagon gave Madera South its second win of the Selma Easter Classic.
“In the second game against Wasco, Bryan, a freshman, went out there and threw a complete game with only 75 pitches and he didn’t walk anybody. That’s the key,” Sandoval said on his second win of the tournament on Tuesday. “He’s just been great for us all year. He’s also got a 2.80 ERA, so we’re just happy for his performance and what he’s brought to this team as a freshman.”
Goodrich opened the scoring in game two after a bloop hit to right field, allowing Anthony Gamiz to come around to score. Gray, who had singled before Goodrich, reached third base on the hit, before coming home on a throwing error on the catcher for a 3-1 lead.
Goodrich followed suit and reached on another Wasco error.
A.J. Rocha tripled home a run in the bottom of the fifth to keep any chances for a comeback far away from the diamond as the Stallions took their second victory in two games, 5-3.
In games three and four, the Stallions couldn’t reproduce their earlier performances, but not because the team weren’t prepared. Both Selma and Sierra Pacific posed a stiff challenge, but the young Stallions gave their all.
“Our team played some tough competition in the last two games, but we are proud of their effort and the way they played throughout the week,” Sandoval said. “In game three, Jalen pitched very well and got ground balls and did what we needed to do, but our defense kind of let him down.”
The Stallions lost their third game 10-1, but never stopped fighting. Gray did his best to keep Madera South in the game, but a five-run bottom of the third inning came at a cost for the Stallions.
At the plate, Madera South were stymied by the Selma pitching staff.
Uribe scored a run and got a hit, while Christopher Jones, Gray and Gamiz, who collected the lone RBI, each got a hit.
In game four, Madera South was unable to find a rhythm on the mound and at the plate. Ivan Villafan pitched five innings, allowing 13 hits and 10 runs, although only four were earned.
Madera South had trouble defensively, with four errors leading to six unearned runs.
And at the plate, only hits by Gray and Gamiz were all the Stallions could muster.
Despite the loss, the Stallions can find things to takeaway to work on.
“What it does is just set up competition. If players are making mistakes, it allows other players to step up and take their chance,” Sandoval said. “We need more players to step up. We want kids to compete because that is how we get better.”