Stallions ride fourth to victory
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South pitcher Murf Gray opens the season on a good note by allowing only two hits over five innings during Tuesday’s 8-1 victory over Liberty. He also struck out 10.
The Madera South Stallions baseball team has come a long way over the last three years.
When head coach Alan Sandoval first took over, he inherited a young team and program looking to build. A future that Sandoval envisioned where his boys would take the diamond and be ready both physically and mentally to compete in the County/Metro Athletic Conference and more.
Today, Sandoval’s vision is starting to take shape on the field.
Tuesday’s 8-1 victory over the Liberty Hawks was a positive sign, not only for the season, but the program moving forward.
Madera South’s Murf Gray, the Fresno State commit despite only being a junior, showed both dugouts why he’s one of the best players in the Central Valley.
“He’s our guy,” Sandoval said of Gray. “It doesn’t matter who we are playing, as long as he is on the mound we feel we can beat anybody and that is a big confidence booster. With him on the mound, we knew eventually we were going to get through, but his ability to dominate really gives the entire team a boost.”
The phenom pitched five near-perfect innings, allowing only two hits, while striking out 10 and walking one. Gray matched up with another local star in Quaid Copher.
The multi-sport Liberty star took the mound and ran into trouble in the fourth inning due to multiple errors in the outfield but kept the Stallions’ bats silent for the first three innings.
Copher finished the day allowing six hits and five runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Elijah Tang, Brian Monges, Gray, Aj Rocha and Jasir Alvarez each drove in a run in the fourth inning.
The four combined for five hits and five RBI’s as the Stallions rode a strong fourth inning to victory.
“I think in year’s past, we didn’t have the ability to hang in there and then take advantage and blow it open like we did today,” Sandoval said. “I think our boys are older and understand the situation better and that’s what led to us capitalizing on a few pitches there and were able to put some runs on the board.
“They did a great job and once they found that little cushion, they kept pushing for more and that’s what we want to see.”
Both Copher and Gray battled back and forth through the first three innings. The game itself looked like an old-fashioned pitching dual between Liberty and Madera South’s best athletes, but it quickly turned into an uneven contest when the wind began to pick up later in the game.
Rocha opened the inning with a walk, giving the Stallions a man on early. Anthony Gamiz doubled to the right field wall putting two men on before Alvarez was hit by the pitch. An ensuing error by Copher allowed Rocha to score from third for the first run.
Gilbert Moisa hit into a fielder’s choice advancing Gamiz and Alvarez to second and third. Tang followed with a single to right field plating both Gamiz and Alvarez, building a 3-0 lead.
Monges hit a two-run triple to right field and Madera South led 5-0, The Stallions added to the lead after Gray singled home Monges. Rocha and Alvarez later added to the lead with RBI’s to give the Hawks a mountain to climb.
Despite efforts from Copher, and defensive whiz Jakson Bucher, the Hawks were unable to mount a comeback.
Bucher scored the Hawks’ only run, but down eight, Gray and the Stallions rode out the opening night victory.