KINGSBURG - In Ross Warholm’s final at-bat, the Kingsburg second baseman was down to the team’s final strike before hitting a ground ball that looked like it’ll end the game. An erratic throw from Central Valley Christian allowed Warholm to advance to first while Marcus Estrada ran to home plate to score the game-tying run.
As a base runner, Warholm took advantage of multiple mistakes from CVC, scoring the game-winning run on a passed ball.
Warholm’s teammates mobbed around him in a dogpile by home plate to celebrate a 6-5 walk-off Central Sequoia League victory over the Cavaliers on March 26.
“The only thing on my mind when I got on base was to just score,” Warholm said. “We needed this win. We needed to turn around the season and get some more wins.”
The junior scored the winning run during Jacob Torres’ at-bat, who was the next batter after Warholm.
During Torres’ at-bat, Warholm stole second (his third steal of the game) and advanced to third on pass ball. A pitch from CVC reliever Spencer Morris went passed catcher William De Boer allowed Warholm to come across home plate.
“Every pass ball, we were liked gasped, looking trying to see what’s the runner doing,” Vikings shortstop Ray Castro said. “What’s Ross doing? And that pass ball, we all knew Ross was going. We knew he was going and we just knew that was it. We all got happy for Ross for such a great read.”
In the seventh inning, both Warholm and Estrada advanced to base on errors. Both defenses struggled on the field with a combine eight errors. The Cavaliers committed a total of five errors compared to Kingsburg’s amount of three.
The Vikings improved to 5-10 overall and 2-2 in CSL play after the victory. Kingsburg lost four-straight games prior to the walk-off win.
“Everyone is feeling it now,” Warholm said about ending the losing streak. “We needed this win like bad.”
The game had a total of five lead changes and two ties. Kingsburg gained its first and second leads of the game in the fifth and seventh innings.
Castro, who usually starts at shortstop, was the starter on the mound against CVC. The senior didn’t strike out any Cavaliers, but he used his defense to force fly balls and ground outs. Castro finished with a solid line of allowing three runs (one unearned) on six hits and a walk in five innings pitched.
“I’m happy they backed me and I knew they could,” Castro said about the Vikings defense. “Especially with the sticks coming back with an answer, it was something we needed as a team.”
After CVC opened the game with a 2-0 lead in the first inning, Kingsburg didn’t answer back until the fourth.
The Vikings tied the game in the fourth inning after capitalizing on two errors. Estrada scored Kingsburg’s first run off an error that advanced Castro to first. Estrada got on base with a single and showed his baserunning ability by stealing second and advancing to third off a pass ball.
Castro got into scoring position with a stolen base and would proceed to third with a pass ball. The senior scored the tying run off an error that caught CVC’s defense off guard. The error was a routine throw from De Boer that went over the head of Morris.
The Vikings had a chance to tie the game in the second inning with runners on third and second base, but Warholm hit a fly ball right field. In the third inning, Kingsburg left two runners stranded on second and first base.
The Cavaliers took a one run lead in the top of fifth inning after an RBI single from its starting pitcher Rees Reveles. In the bottom half of the inning, the Vikings gained a 4-3 lead (its first of the game) after RBI doubles from Castro and Warholm.
CVC tied the game 4-4 after scoring from third a pass ball in the sixth inning. The Cavaliers went up by one run again in the seventh inning by scoring on a fielder’s choice. CVC had the bases loaded with one out when the team scored the go ahead run. Morris hit a ground ball to Warholm, who threw it to Castro for the force out at second, but the Vikings couldn’t convert the double play, allowing Josh Dykstra to score from third.
It was Kingsburg’s sixth game of the season that was decided by one run. The Vikings improved to 1-5 in those games after the walk-off win.
“The kids battled,” Kingsburg head coach Jim Cranford said. “We’ve been in I don’t know how many games, six out of the last eight were one-run games, and they found a way not to get on top. Today, they found a way to get on top.”
On March 29, the Vikings were shut out by Exeter in a 2-0 loss. It was a pitcher's duel between Dalton Alford of Kingsburg and Jaykob Acosta of the Monarchs. Both pitchers each threw a complete game.
Alford allowed two runs on two hits and two walks in six innings. The junior also had two strikeouts. Acosta had 12 strikeouts and allowed no runs on four hits and a walk in seven innings.
Kingsburg (5-11, 2-3 CSL) last played Selma (11-2, 5-0 CSL) at home on Tuesday (after press time).
The Vikings will aim to stay in the CSL race when the team hosts Immanuel (12-3, 4-1 CSL) on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
After, Kingsburg will play on the road against Hanford West (0-14, 0-6 CSL) on April 9.