Walk-off wild pitch gifts Stallions a win
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South third baseman Gilbert Moisa places the tag on Firebaugh’s Isaiah Leyva after Leyva tried to steal third in the first inning of Tuesday’s game. Moisa ended up scoring the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
it seemed like every time the Madera South Stallions baseball team threw a knockout punch to the Firebaugh Eagles, the Eagles fought back.
The Stallions couldn’t put away the Eagles and needed a two-run, seventh inning rally to pull out an 8-7 victory after a wild pitch allowed Gilbert Moisa to score the game-winning run Tuesday evening.
“It speaks to how tough we are. It comes from experience,” head coach Alan Sandoval said. “These guys have been playing varsity since their freshman year. They have so many games under their belts. They are tough. They are so competitive and they don’t want to lose. That showed tonight. Whatever they needed to do was going to get done so they wouldn’t lose.”
It looked like the Stallions were going to roll to their fifth straight victory to open the season, the best in school history, after scoring three runs in the firth.
However Firebaugh scored four in the top of the second. When the Stallions regained the lead in the bottom of the second, Firebaugh took the lead back with two runs in the third. Madera South tied the score in the bottom of the third, but Firebaugh took the lead in the fourth and held it until the seventh.
“We have to be more consistent, even if it’s one or two runs an inning,” Sandoval said. “We scored eight runs in the first two innings. We have to learn to put teams away.”
The Stallions’ pitching staff had trouble with command early in the game.
The combination of Jair and Jasir Alvarez and Jonathan Spraggins allowed all seven runs to score, although just three runs were earned. They allowed only five hits, but also waked five batters, hit four batters and had five wild pitches.
“The Alvarez twins weren’t on and they usually are,” Sandoval said. “We’re not losing confidence in them at all. They might come back on Saturday against Minarets. We just needed Murf (Gray) to settle things down. We can’t look ahead. We were planning on starting him Thursday.”
Murf Gray tossed the final four innings and didn’t allow a run. He allowed three hits, walked one and struck out 10 batters. Gray also led the Stallions with three hits and two RBIs.
Firebaugh was equally tough. After the starter was pulled after giving up six runs in 2 1/3 innings, Andres Altimirano settled things for the Eagles. He allowed two runs (both in the seventh) to go with four hits and struck out eight.
Errors hurt the Eagles with four unearned runs. Of the eight Madera South runs, Stallion batters were credited with just three RBIs. The Eagles’ pitchers also threw five wild pitches and hit three batters.
Gray started the first inning rally with a single. He went to second on a wild pitch. Elijah Tang was hit by a pitch and both runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch. Xavier Cantu reached on an error while Gray came in to score. A.J. Rocha singled up the middle to drive in Tang and Rocha scored on another wild pitch for a 3-0 lead.
Firebaugh scored four runs in the top of the third helped by two walks, an error and a triple to take a 4-3 lead.
Jair Alvarez led off the second by reaching on an error and Moisa was hit by a pitch. After a strikeout, Gray singled to left to drive in Alvarez. Tang forced out Gray at second and Cantu reached on an error to drive in Moisa. Rocha was hit by a pitch to load the bases, but a strikeout ended the inning.
Firebaugh added two more runs in the third on a single, walk and three straight hit batters to take a 6-5 lead.
Jasir Alvarez led off the third with a single up the middle. He went to second on a Moisa single. Monges put down a bunt and reached on an error, which allowed Alvarez to score the tying run.
Altimirano came in and got a flyout and groundout to get out of the inning. He didn’t allow a runner past second base until the seventh inning.
Firebaugh led off the fourth with a double After a walk, another double drove in a run. Gray came in and struck out the side, but the Eagles led 7-6.
Gray ran into trouble in the fifth when a hit batter and two singles loaded the bases with one out. Gray calmly struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
“To me, I knew Murf was going to get out of it. I wasn’t worried,” Sandoval said.
Trailing 7-6, the Stallions made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh. Jasir Alvarez led off with a single to left. Jair Alvarez put down a bunt and reached for a single to move pinch-runner Aiden Sua to second.
Moisa tried to bunt the runners over, but Sua was forced out at third.
Brain Monges, the team’s leading hitter who was 0-for-4 on the night, singled to right to load he bases.
Gray reached on a fielder’s choice, forcing Monges out at second, but Alvarez scored the game-tying run and Moisa advanced to third.
On a 1-2 pitch to Tang, the pitch got away from the Firebaugh catcher and went to the backstop. Moisa hustled home, slid past the plate and then touched it for the game-winning run.
Madera South played Reedley on Thursday and will head to Minarets on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game.