Squeeze laid down in rainy Stallions baseball win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune Madera South’s Uriel Conde congratulates Jiovanni Saavedra (5) after scoring a second inning run Friday. Saavedra also tossed a complete game four-hitter for the win over Sanger.
After two tries, the Madera South Stallions finally put down the squeeze bunt and held on for a 4-3 County/Metro Athletic Conference victory over the Sanger Apaches.
The Stallions avenged a March 11 loss in the Central Valley Diamond Classic championship in Fowler with the victory through the cold, wind and rain Friday afternoon on Eddie Chapa Field with help from a Felix Soria suicide squeeze.
Stallions starter Jiovanni Saavedra dueled with Sanger pitcher Jake Harrell again. Harrell got the best of Saavedra in their previous game, but Saavedra held on for the victory. He struck out two, walked four and allowed one earned run.
“It was pretty impressive watch Jio pace himself and stay in control,” head coach Bobby Waits said. “He made sure to take his time and do what he needed to do to have 100 percent focus on each pitch. It’s not easy. You have to make sure you have proper grip on the ball and clean your cleats on the ball. He’s had experience throwing on the varsity for three years and he did well.”
Madera South, which lost its previous game to Edison in part to a failed suicide squeeze, executed the squeeze for the go-ahead run and Saavedra made the run hold up.
“I’m not giving up on the squeeze,” Waits said. “We practiced bunting. I’m confident in our guys that they are going to come through. When something doesn’t work out, you don’t stop it.”
Oscar Reyes was the only Stallions batter with more than one hit.
The Apaches got on the scoreboard in the top of the first after an error allowed the lead-off batter to reach base. A double moved the runner to third, but Saavedra got two grounders back to him, then allowed a two-out single to score the first run of the game.
After a scoreless first, the Stallions put three runs on the board in the second. Manny Nunez drew a walk and advanced to second on a single from Saavedra.
Jeremy Flores put down a bunt, but Harrell threw the ball into right field, allowing Nunez to score and send Saavedra to third and Flores to second.
With Ramon Uribe at the plate, Harrell uncorked a wild pitch. Saavedra scored and Flores went to third. Uribe was hit by a pitch and Alonzo Tovar forced Uribe at second, but Flores came in to score to open a three-run lead.
In the third, a double and an error allowed Sanger to close Madera South’s lead to one. In the top of the fourth, a walk, balk, wild pitch and a groundout tied the game at three.
Madera South then took the final lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. With one out, Uribe walked and went to third when Tovar sent a ball over the left fielder’s head that was misplayed for a double. Soria squared to bunt on the third pitch of the at bat and put it down. Harrell’s only play was first as Uribe scored the go-ahead run.
“After they tied it up, you want to respond, but it’s not that easy,” Waits said. “Alonzo hit that double to set up the run. To get that run back says a lot about character and getting better each game.”
In the final three innings, Saavedra allowed a runner in each inning. However, that runner didn’t get past second base. He hit a batter to lead off the fifth, but a forceout stranded the runner. Saavedra allowed a one-out walk, but picked the runner at first. He allowed a one-out single in the seventh, but got a groundout to Bertoncini at first and another to Nunez at third to end the game with the 4-3 victory.