KINGSBURG - On a day where seniors were recognized pregame, the Kingsburg Vikings struggled to generate runs in front of the home crowd on Saturday.
The Vikings (10-16, 4-6 Central Sequoia League) managed to score to a run in the fourth inning, but that was all the scoring Kingsburg did in a 9-1 loss to the Edison Tigers (9-17, 3-10 County Metro League) in a non-league game.
All five of the Vikings seniors (Daniel Ingrao, Ray Castro, Taylor Morales, Evan Brown, and Connor Abe) where in the starting lineup. All five seniors also had at least three at-bats.
Kingsburg had a total of five hits compared to Edison’s amount at nine. All five of the Vikings hits were singles.
“Same ordeal all year, we don’t hit, we don’t win,” Kingsburg head coach Jim Cranford said. “We hit, we have a chance. That’s the bottom line. We didn’t hit today.”
In the first two innings, the Vikings left runners in scoring position and struggled to make contact in those situations. Tigers starting pitcher Josh Allison held Kingsburg scoreless by striking out the side in both innings.
Jacob Gregory was the Vikings runner that was stranded in the first inning. The third baseman reached base on a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch.
In the second inning, Marcus Estrada led off with a single and proceeded to steal second during Castro’s at-bat. Castro drew a walk, giving Kingsburg two base runners in the inning. Both Estrada and Castro were left on base after Allison struck out the next three batters.
Edison gained a 2-0 lead in the top half of the second inning with a two-run single hit by Guillermo Galaviz.
The Tigers proceeded to score three runs in the third inning, one in the fourth, and three more in the sixth.
“All year our pitching hasn’t been bad, it’s just we haven’t hit,” Cranford said. “Even hitting is not necessarily getting base hits, but we have to hit the ball hard. When you don’t hit the ball hard, there’s no fear in the pitchers and no fear in the infielders. So we got to hit. It’s been the achilles heel all year.”
Castro scored the Vikings’ run in the fourth inning. The senior shortstop reached base on an error and later advanced to second on a passed ball. Castro scored from second on another Tigers error, which caused Abe to reach base.
Cranford coached in his fourth game since suffering a practice-related eye and nose injury on April 12.
Cranford said “it felt good” to be back in the dugout with his team. He didn’t comment any further about his injury.
Despite having a record under .500, Kingsburg could potentially qualify for the Central Section Division IV due to its strength of schedule. The Vikings are one of four teams in the division with a positive strength of schedule, according to MaxPreps. On the MaxPreps Division IV rankings, Kingsburg is ranked No. 12 and are one of two teams in the top 14 with a positive strength of schedule.
Before the Vikings played Exeter on Tuesday (after press time), Kingsburg needed to close out the season with victories over the Monarchs and Selma. The Vikings would end CSL play at 6-6 with those two wins.
Ingrao and Castro, who played in last year’s team that got eliminated in the first round, said they want a chance to compete in the postseason one more time.
“I think it’s definitely important for the juniors to get some experience in a playoff atmosphere,” Ingrao said. “It’s just different whenever it’s one-and-done.”
“Honestly, for me, it’s very important because it’s my last season,” Castro said. “I really want the juniors to experience it. So they’ll be ready next year.”
Kingsburg will conclude the regular season on the road against it’s rival Selma (20-4, 9-2 CSL) on Thursday. The Bears will play for either at least a share of a CSL championship or sole possession of the 2019 league title against the Vikings. The game is scheduled for a first pitch at 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere next week,” Cranford said about the Selma game.