The Madera South Stallions baseball team earned the final spot in the Div. IV Central Section playoffs and faced a tough task with top-seeded Sierra Pacific-Hanford in the first round.
Most pundits wondered whether Madera South should have gone to the playoffs. The Stallions proved those pundits by pulling out a 13-9, eight-inning victory over Sierra Pacific on Wednesday.
“I told them we played a tough CMAC schedule,” head coach Alan Sandoval said. “We were battle-tested. We have to go out there and play our best and we’ll be okay. This doesn’t happen too often.
“We scored two runs in the top of the first and we knew we could compete with these guys.”
Although it was tough to go through, playing the aces of the County/Metro Athletic Conference helped the Stallions battle the best of Div. IV.
“We played against some of the top pitchers in the Central Valley so this was nothing new to us,” Sandoval said.
Chris Jones led the offensive charge. He had three hits, all doubles, and drove in six runs, including clearing the bases during a six-run eighth inning.
“Chris was clutch today,” Sandoval said. “We were down 6-4 in the bottom of the seventh. He hit a bases loaded double and drove in two runs in the eighth. He brought his stick today. He’s getting hot at the right time for us.”
Gray also had two hits and scored three runs. A.J. Rocha had a single and scored three runs, as did Brian Monges. Anthony Gamiz also scored two runs while Monges and Gray drove in a pair.
Seth Goodrich got the start and kept a good-hitting Sierra Pacific team at bay until the seventh. Jalen Gray got credit with the win with an inning in relief.
“Defensively, we played well,” Sandoval said. “Seth threw really well. They can hit the ball. They have some good hitters on their team. The first time all year, our offense carried us.”
After Sierra Pacific scored a run in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra inning, the Golden Bears sent out their ace to the mound.
The Stallions quickly sent him packing by scoring six runs in the eighth inning.
“They tried to save their ace, but they had to bring them in,” Sandoval said. “We tattooed him for six runs. It was fun to watch.”
Gray allowed two runs in the eighth, but it was enough for the 13-9 victory.
“Jalen came in and threw strikes,” Sandoval said. “Their lead-off through five batters can hit the ball. We knew once Jalen got past the No. 5 batter, we would be fine.”