Stallions battle back for win
Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Madera South third baseman Jalen Gray makes the tag on Mission Oak’s Nate Watson, who tried to steal third in the second inning in Wednesday’s non-conference victory.
In a race to get a game in before the weather hit, the Madera South Stallions poured plenty of quick-drying agent on Eddie Chapa Field for a non-conference divisional game against the Mission Oak-Tulare Hawks.
However, it looked like the work to get the field in playable shape went for naught when the Hawks scored three runs in the first inning Wednesday afternoon.
The Stallions battled back with six runs in the bottom of the inning and held off the Hawks for a 9-5 victory beating the rain on a windy day.
“It (the comeback) was huge,” head coach Alan Sandoval said. “This is a very big game for us. This is a Div. IV game and for playoff seeding. It’s a game for our young guys to get better. It’s a good hitting team that we needed to score. If we don’t score and don’t answer, they might score three runs the next inning and could easily break it open. That was huge to answer.”
After Jalen Gray allowed three runs in the first inning, Lawrence Espinoza took the mound and allowed one run over the next four innings to pick up the win. He allowed four hits and struck out two for the win.
“Lawrence was huge,” Sandoval said. “He saved us today. Jalen threw 93 pitches on Thursday and it was the first time he threw that many in high school. He was a little tired. What Lawrence did today was remarkable. I couldn’t have asked for anything else from him.”
The Stallions banged out 10 hits with just two extra-base hits. Mission Oak had 11 hits with three extra base hits with a home run.
“We’re a small ball team,” Sandoval said. “Our middle of our line up can run into one and hit one out. For the most part, we’re not going to be hitting a lot of home runs. It’s huge for us to play small ball. It’s huge for us to make contact and use our speed.”
Murf Gray, his older brother Jalen Gray and Seth Goodrich each had two hits. Jalen Gray and Espinoza each scored two runs while Murf Gray, Elijah Bertoncini and Espinoza drove in two runs each.
Mission Oak opened the game with a double and a single. A balk scored the first run while a single scored the second run. An overthrow to the cut-off man allowed runners to advance. After a popout and a groundout, another single drove in the third run of the inning. Gray ended the inning with a strikeout.
Madera South scored six runs in the bottom of the inning, but five were unearned.
Murf Gray was hit in the foot on a 1-2 pitch. After a strikeout and a groundout, Jalen Gray singled up the middle to drive in his brother. Chris Jones reached on an error to keep the inning alive. Seth Goodrich reached on an infield single to load the bases.
Bertoncini reached on another infield single to drive in Gray. Espinoza doubled down the right field line to drive in Jones and Goodrich to tie the score.
Bryan Malagon drew a walk to load the bases. Murf Gray followed with a single up the middle to drive home Bertoncini and Espinoza, but Malagon was thrown out at third for a 6-3 lead.
Madera South added another run in the bottom of the second. With one out, Rocha doubled down the right field line. He went to third when Gray reached on an error and scored when Jones reached on an error for a 7-3 lead.
Espinoza allowed a solo home run to Nick Alvarado in the third, but allowed just three other baserunners over four innings and left with a 9-4 lead.
With one out in the third, the Stallions added to their lead. Espinoza reached on an error, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Malagon single.
Jalen Gray led off the fourth with a single. He went to third on a Goodrich single and scored on Bertoncini’s sacrifice fly for Madera South’s ninth run of the game.
Goodrich allowed a leadoff single in the sixth, but struck out two to get out of trouble.
Murf Gray allowed a run in the seventh on a single and a wild pitch in the 9-5 victory.