Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South senior Chris Jones throws a pitch during the regular season finale Tuesday at Eddie Chapa Field against the San Joaquin Memorial-Panthers.
The Madera South baseball team lost to the San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno Panthers, 9-0, to conclude the home regular season schedule at Eddie Chapa Field.
The Panthers built a 3-0 lead after three innings and put the game away for good after scoring four runs in the fifth.
Stallions head coach Alan Sandoval said the final result wasn’t the most important thing to look for as his team faced one of the top teams in the league.
“As long as we’re getting better, we’re having good at bats, we’re working towards getting better for the playoffs, that’s the big thing I was looking for,” Sandoval said. “We want to win every game we come into, but we definitely have to get better.”
Sandoval said the players have shown a positive attitude despite the rough stretch.
“They’re willing to work,” Sandoval said. “This is a great group of guys. They know we are up against one of the toughest leagues in the state.”
Adding to the challenge, the Stallions are playing with a largely inexperienced roster.
“We have five freshmen and sophomores playing,” Sandoval said. “They know we’re up against it, but they have a great attitude and they just keep working. Attitude wise, I have no problems with this team.”
Facing Madera pitcher Christopher Jones, the Panthers’ Matt Alvarez drove in the first run in the first inning. Bret Carrell then drove in Tyler Davis to make it 2-0 in the second inning. Junior Mac Dalena scored the Panthers’ third run after an error by the Stallions.
Senior Ivan Villafan took the mound in the fifth inning, but was unable to slow down the Panthers as they scored four runs in the inning to take a 7-0 lead.
The Stallions’ best chance to score came in the fifth inning, but it ended with a runner getting thrown at first base as Jones was making his way home.
San Joaquin Memorial added its last two runs in the sixth inning. The Stallions, once again, managed to get two runners on base in their final at-bat, but came up empty.
Sandoval said he’s keeping the team focused on the big picture despite the struggles.
“We’re young and we’re playing against good teams, but we have an end goal in mind,” Sandoval said. “The end goal is to make a run in the playoffs. Forget what happened here. As long as we’re getting better, that’s what matters.”
Sandoval said the team has been working to make adjustments after every game, including a recent loss against Sanger.
“Against Sanger last week, we chased too many balls out of the strike zone,” Sandoval said. “Today our focus was, if we get a pitch in the strike zone, hammer it. If it’s out of the strike zone, take it. We did a good job of taking pitches that were outside the strike zone. We weren’t chasing.”