SELMA - Through the first four innings, Ray Castro of Kingsburg and Ethan Wenter of Selma were in the midst of a pitcher’s duel by allowing a combined one hit. With constant dominance on the mound from both pitchers, it would be costly errors from the Bears that affected the outcome of the game.
In a rival Central Sequoia League matchup, the Vikings defeated Selma 3-2 at home on April 2.
It was Kingsburg’s third one-run game in four contests, two of which the Vikings came on top. Kingsburg (6-12, 3-4 CSL) improved to 2-5 in one-run ball games this season.
“I told them about the third inning that it’s a game of flinch,” Vikings coach Jim Cranford said. “Who’s going to make the first mistake?”
With the score tied 2-2, Kingsburg scored the go-ahead run after Jacob Gregory knocked in Jacob Torres from third. Torres previously reached first on a walk, but a passed ball and an error on two different plays would advance the outfielder to third.
The RBI single was Gregory’s only hit of a 1-for-3 night.
“It was just a must, a must hit,” Gregory said. “We were tied and we needed it. I was looking for it up the middle, but he took me outside and I just took it that way and it turned out in our favor.”
The game was scoreless for three and a half innings before Kingsburg scored the first run of the game. The Vikings took a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the fourth inning without a hit.
Torres led off the inning by reaching first on a walk. Torres got in scoring position by stealing second and advancing to third with a sacrifice bunt by Ross Warholm. After Gregory flied out to right field, Torres scored when Marcus Estrada advanced to first on a dropped third strike.
Torres made the most of his at-bats reaching base through two walks and scoring two runs on a 0-for-1 night.
In a game where base hits and runs were hard to come by early on, the Vikings had a total of four hits and three runs. Kingsburg was also aggressive on the base paths with six steals, three of which came from Torres.
Selma (12-3, 6-1 CSL) gained a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning after Wenter and Leo Arreguin each knocked in runs. Wenter hit an RBI single while Arreguin recorded a run-scoring double. Wenter, Arreguin, and Aaron Aguilar recorded the Bears first three hits of the game in the fifth inning. Aguilar had Selma’s first hit of the game with a single. Prior to being held hitless, the Bears had three base runners through a walk in the first four innings.
“We’ll see how we respond,” Selma coach John Hollett said. “We have all year long. After a loss, we started winning. I don’t expect anything else out of this team and they’ve been an united team.”
Kingsburg’s first hit of the game was a infield popup single from Dalton Alford in the third inning. Hollett said it was routine popup that should’ve been caught.
In the bottom half of the fifth inning, Kingsburg tied the game with an RBI single from Alford. The first baseman knocked in Castro from second. Castro reached on a single and advanced to second on a steal.
“That’s what we needed,” Castro said. “After that, I knew it was going to be a competitive game because I knew our guys were in it after that.”
On the mound, Castro, who normally plays shortstop, received a no decision after allowing three hits and two runs in five innings pitched. Castro also allowed four walks, but he struck out a season-high seven batters.
Joey Sanchez was the winning pitcher after throwing a scoreless sixth inning. Alford earned the save after preserving a one run lead in the seventh inning.
Cranford considered catcher Daniel Ingrao as the unsung hero of the game.
“I think our catcher does a lot for us back there,” Cranford said. “He calls all the pitches, it’s Daniel’s deal and I think he does a real good job handling our pitchers. I think tonight, as much as the pitching, he deserves a lot of that part of the win.”
Wenter also received a no decision after pitching 4 ⅓ innings. The senior allowed three hits, a walk, and two runs (one unearned) with seven strikeouts.
“That Wenter kid man...he dealt the whole night long,” Cranford said. “He threw the breaking ball behind the count, taking change of speeds. He was good tonight. That’s probably the best pitching we’ve seen all year.”
On April 5, Kingsburg fell to Immanuel 10-0 in a CSL game at home. The Vikings committed three errors and were held to two hits. The Vikings last played Hanford West on Tuesday (after press time).
Selma also played on April 5, defeating the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers 1-0 in a league game on the road. The only run of the game occured in the first inning.
As of press time, the Bears and Immanuel (14-3, 6-1 CSL) are tied for the top spot in the CSL standings. Selma last played Dinuba on Tuesday (after press time).
Kingsburg will compete at the Fowler Easter Classic, which is scheduled to start on Saturday. The tournament will take Sunday off and it will resume play on April 14-15. The Vikings will continue CSL play against Dinuba on April 24.
Selma is scheduled to play in a road game against Hanford West (1-15-1, 0-7 CSL) on Thursday. On April 15-17, the Bears will host the 63rd Annual Selma Kiwanis Baseball Tournament. Games will take place at Selma and Immanuel high schools. Selma will continue CSL play against Exeter on April 24.
The Vikings and Bears will meet again at Selma for regular season finale on May 2.