Stallions stun Cougars for baseball win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Murf Gray celebrates with Brian Monges at home plate after Gray hit a two-run home run in the first inning of Wednesday’s victory over the Clovis Cougars.
Normally, when a Div. IV team takes on a Div. I team, the Div. 1 team wins.
However, this isn’t a normal season for the Madera South Stallions baseball team. Not only did they punctuate a 10-0 start with a 7-3 victory over Div. I Clovis, they did it with their No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers on the mound.
The Stallions scored four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday to turn a tie game into their 10th straight victory to open the season.
The win comes four days after Madera South defeated Sanger to win the Central Valley Diamond Classic championship.
“It’s a huge win for our program,” head coach Alan Sandoval said. “It’s bigger for them. They earned it. They deserved it. They work hard and put the time in. I’m so happy for them.”
Jair Alvarez tossed the first four inning and allowed just two hits and struck out four. However, five walks hurt him and two turned into runs. Brian Monges came in relief and got out of the fifth with the game tied. He tossed the final three innings and allowed two hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
“Jair was huge,” Sandoval said. “We wanted to see him against a really good team. He proved we have another pitcher for league. Monges has been so good for us. He’s been huge at the plate and on the mound. He’s taken over the No. 2 role.”
Murf Gray proved again why he is one of the best players in the Central Section. He went 4-for-4 with a home run, a double and two singles. He scored three runs and drove in two more in the win.
“Murf is Murf again,” Sandoval said.
Monges was 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Xavier Cantu was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a double and Elijah Tang also hit a double.
Madera South and Gray set the tone early. Monges led off the bottom of the first with a sharp single to right. Three pitches later, Gray sent a ball over the left field fence for a two-run home run.
The Stallions added another run in the third off the bat of Gray. With one out, he doubled off the left field fence. After Gray stole third, Clovis walked A.J. Rocha and Xavier Cantu to load the bases with two outs.
Gilbert Moisa came through with a single up the middle to drive in Gray for a 3-0 lead.
The Stallions littered the field with runners all game long. They banged out 12 hits and left eight runners on base.
Meanwhile, although the Cougars left 10 runners on base, Alvarez looked to be in control.
He seemed to run out of steam in the fifth inning when the first four batters reached base.
Alvarez walked the lead-off batter. The next batter hit a squibber up the first base line for an infield single. A walk loaded the bases and another walk forced a run in.
Monges relieved Alvarez and allowed a sacrifice fly for Clovis’ second run. The next batter hit a fly ball to right that went off the glove of the left fielder for an error. That allowed the tying run to score.
After an intentional walk, Monges got a popout and a flyout to end the inning.
Monges ran into trouble in the sixth, too. After striking out the first two batters, he allowed back-to-back singles before getting a popout to Gray at short.
Madera South struck for four runs in the sixth inning to take the lead. Jorge Gutierrez was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. He went to second on an Anthony Gamiz sacrifice bunt.
Monges singled to right and Gutierrez scored the go-ahead run. Gray hit a blooper to right that fell on the first pitch he saw.
Tang hit a grounder up the first base line off the first base bag into right field for a double that scored Monges for a 5-3 lead.
After Rocha was intentionally walked, Cantu singled to left to drive in both Gray and Tang for a 7-3 lead.
“It’s a confidence thing,” Sandoval said. “We had the feeling from the moment Clovis stepped off the bus that we were going to win. We went out there and got it done.”
Monges walked the first batter in the seventh, but got a flyout, popout and a strikeout to give the Stallions the victory.