KINGSBURG - A two-run home run from Marissa Gonzalez would be the difference in the Vikings 3-2 victory over Central Sequoia League opponent Central Valley Christian at Kingsburg High School on Friday.
Kingsburg’s gained it’s 3-2 lead after Gonzalez went yard in the fifth inning. The home run was the catcher’s eighth of the season and her first time going deep since April 4.
“I was expecting something up, ” Gonzalez said. “So I was waiting for the one to come. I was keeping my hands up. I told everyone to attack early and good things will happen, but you got to hit in tough games like that.”
The homer was one of the team’s three hits against CVC starting pitcher Rylie Atherton, who pitched a complete game. Gonzalez finished the night hitting 1-for-2.
Along with her eight home runs, Gonzalez is batting .506 with 43 RBIs this year. Gonzalez is leading the team in all three categories with one game left in the regular season.
The Vikings stayed in contention for a CSL title after the win. As of press time, Kingsburg (19-5-1, 7-3 CSL) were in third place in the league standings behind Hanford West (17-9, 8-3 CSL) and Dinuba (19-6, 7-2 CSL).
The win over CVC came three days after losing 4-2 to Dinuba. Kingsburg head coach Randy Sieger said his team has to finish the regular season strong to not only possibly clinched a league title, but to earn the top seed in the Central Section Division II playoffs.
“Right now, MaxPreps kind of has us at No. 1 or No. 2,,” Sieger said. “In order for us to keep the No. 1 or No. 2 spot, I think we need to win these games so we could get homefield throughout the playoffs. That’s the whole goal.”
The game was scoreless in the first three innings, but both teams each left runners in scoring position during that span.
In the first inning, Gonzalez stole second base, but was stranded there. She reached first after being hit by a pitch. CVC left a runner on second in the second inning. Kingsburg had a base runner in the first three innings, but Gonzales was the only player to get into scoring position. The Vikings other two base runners reached first on a walk.
The Cavaliers were the first team to put runs on the scoreboard in the fourth inning. CVC went up 2-0 after a two-run double from Lauren Reed. The two RBI double occurred with two outs in the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Vikings cut the Cavaliers lead to one run. Taryn Irigoyen stole home to score Kingsburg’s first run of the game. Irigoyen and Brianna Vela successfully attempted a double steal on the play. Vela stole second while Irigoyen scored.
“My thoughts were If the ball is leaving the catcher’s hand, then I’m off, i’m going,” Irigoyen said about the run scoring play. “We just got to get on the board.”
Irigoyen led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third during a play where Vela reached on an error.
After Gonzalez’s home run in the fifth inning, Irigoyen almost scored again, but she was tagged out before reaching home. Irigoyen hit a double and advanced to third on an error, but was not quick enough to beat a throw from the CVC outfield.
Irigoyen’s double was her only hit of the game and went 1-for-2 at the plate. Carla Duarte had the Vikings other hit, which was a single in the fifth inning. Duarte scored on Gonzalez’s two-run homer. Duarte (1-for-3) was hitless before her single.
Kingsburg struggled to hit off of Atherton, but managed to draw five walks against the junior.
“She’s a really top notch pitcher,” Sieger said about Atherton. “She gives everybody fits, she has a lot of strikeouts on the season. I think she’s either the best pitcher in our league or one of the best pitchers in our league. She pitched a good game tonight, but we came on top and that’s what we're here to do, which is win games.”
Kayla Medrano was the winning pitcher for the Vikings after throwing 3 ⅓ scoreless innings in relief. The sophomore allowed two hits with one strikeout and a walk. Starting Mia Estrada allowed both of CVC’s runs on five hits. The freshman walked one batter and struck out a pair.
Kingsburg last played Exeter (15-8, 4-5 CSL) on the road on Tuesday (after press time).
The Vikings will conclude the regular season at home against Selma (16-8, 6-5 CSL) on Thursday. Kingsburg won the first meeting against the Bears on April 3 in a game that was suspended a day prior due to inclement weather. Kingsburg defeated Selma 8-4 in the continuation of the suspended game.
The Vikings’ playoff seeding will be posted on the CIF Central Section website this weekend.