KINGSBURG - The top of the seventh inning would be a daunting one for the Kingsburg baseball team. Kingsburg allowed Mission Oak High School to score five runs on six hits in the top of the inning and lost 7-2 at home on March 7.
Kingsburg head coach Jim Cranford said the team gave up “at least seven or eight outs” in the inning, which led to the Vikings having limited opportunities to score in the bottom half of the seventh.
“They jump up to five going into the seventh, that limits what you could do,” Cranford said. “When you get behind a bunch of runs, you can’t steal anymore, you can’t bunt anymore because every out is precious.
Before Mission Oak’s five-run inning, Kingsburg outfielder Hunter Sasselli tied the game at 2-2 by scoring off a wild pitch in the sixth. Sasselli advanced to second and third base off of two separate wild pitches from Mission Oak reliever Brett Johnson after driving a single to deep center field off Hawks’ pitching starter Jacob Torrez.
“He created a run,” Cranford said on Sasselli’s score. “He manufactured a run by himself [with] a single, stole second, got to third and scored a run.”
Sasselli went 2-for-3 with a run scored. As a team, Kingsburg had three hits against the Hawks.
Senior Ben Coito had the third hit for the Vikings going 1-for-2 with a triple and a walk. Coito was close to driving in Sasselli in the bottom of the fifth inning, but he was tagged out at home plate.
“I took a shot and ran a guy [to home plate],” Cranford said, adding he thought they'd get a runner on third and they'd score no matter what, but they didn't.
Kingsburg starting pitcher Riley Walls tossed six innings (pitched into the seventh) and allowed three runs on five hits. Seth Costi moved from the outfield to pitch the rest of the game.
Cranford said Walls threw a “great” game and the Vikings struggles at the plate against Mission Oak’s pitching staff we’re too much to overcome.
“With the type of pitching we saw earlier today, even the outs have to be hard outs,” he said. “We've got to put the ball in play, put pressure on the defense and we didn’t do that early.”
Cranford said the team’s pitching staff is inexperienced and the defense needs to “catch and throw” to assist the team’s pitching. The Vikings had two errors that led to runs for Mission Oak.
“Other than Riley, we've got guys pitching this year that never pitched before,” Cranford said. “I’m not upset at all with our pitching staff, but with our pitching staff we’re not going to have a lot of strikeouts. There’s no one on that hill throwing 90 [miles per hour]”
Three days later, Kingsburg lost 6-2 against Sanger at Fowler High School in a game that was part of the Central Valley Diamond Classic tourney. On Tuesday (after press time), Kingsburg played Lemoore at home.
Currently, the Vikings are 1-3-2 overall heading to the Central Sequoia League season that will begin on the road against Immanuel High School on March 16. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m.