SELMA - For the first three innings, Selma’s bats were shut down, but when the fourth came around, the Bears lineup were tough to get out.
In the fourth inning, Selma scored four runs on five hits enroute to defeating Immanuel High 5-2 at Allen Cropsey Diamond at Bobby Cox Field on March 26.
The Bears took sole possession of first place in the CSL standings after the victory.
It was a matchup between two teams unbeaten in Central Sequoia League play. Heading into the game, both teams were off to stellar starts this season with a combined record of 21-3.
Selma improved to 10-2 overall and 5-0 in CSL play after the victory. For Immanuel (12-3, 4-1 CSL), it was the Eagles second loss of the season and it’s first in league play.
“We’re a team that battles,” Bears head coach John Hollett said. “We battled to get on base, we battled on the pitching mound, we battled everywhere. We have good at-bats, we’re mentally tough on the mound and that stuff wins ball games.”
Immanuel gained a 1-0 advantage in the first inning after Trace Pires hit a two-out RBI single that scored Chris Gurrola, who reached on an error to lead off the game.
The Eagles’ 1-0 lead lasted until the bottom of the fourth inning.
“Down 1-0, that’s nothing to us,” Selma first baseman/pitcher Isaiah Gastelum said. “We always battle as a team and we always come back and we try to come back.”
In the second and third innings, both teams had a combined total of two base runners. Isaiah Hernandez was Selma’s only base runner during that stretch after reaching on a walk in the second inning. Gurrola reached on a lead-off double in the third inning, but he was stranded after Bears’ starter Ethan Wenter retired the next three batters.
In the fourth inning, Selma tied the game with an RBI double from Gastelum. Eddie Avalos scored from second base on Gastelum’s double, which landed fair inches away from foul territory in right field.
“You just got to find a way,” Gastelum said about his RBI double. “And I found a way to get on.”
After, Brycen Carrasco reach first on an infield single, which was followed by an RBI first base hit from Aaron Aguilar to give the Bears a 2-1 lead. Aguilar knocked in Gastelum from third on the run-scoring single.
Selma’s two other runs in the fourth inning were from a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Naranjo and a RBI double from Leo Arreguin.
“It was all hype,” Aguilar said about the atmosphere in the Bears’ dugout during the fourth inning. “We were all hyped up.”
After Wenter advance to first on a walk, Avalos received another at-bat in the inning with the bases loaded, but the cleanup hitter hit a fly ball to center field to end the fourth.
Selma’s fifth run of the game occurred in the fifth inning with an RBI double from Hernandez, which extended the Bears lead to 5-2. The Eagles scored in the top half of the inning with an RBI single from Roman Rosales.
“It’s a playoff atmosphere,” Wenter said. “Every game has been a playoff atmosphere and I think it’s been great preparing us for games coming ahead and I think it was a great overall team win.”
Wenter earned the win as the starter after allowing three hits and striking out three batters in 4 ⅓ innings pitched. The left handed hybrid pitcher/first baseman allowed one walk and the only run scored against him was unearned.
Gastelum earned the save after pitching the final 3 ⅔ innings. The junior, another left handed hybrid pitcher/first baseman, allowed three hits and three walks, but only one of those base runners crossed home plate. Gastelum struck out three batters in his appearance.
“We’ve been having really good pitching and I can’t say it enough,” Hollett said. “I don’t feel like tonight was the best either one of those two have pitched...and they’ll probably tell you that too, but they kept battling. It was a battle for the whole seven innings.”
Selma last played the Kingsburg Vikings (5-11, 2-3 CSL) at Kingsburg High School on Tuesday (after press time).
The Bears are scheduled to continue CSL play on the road at Central Valley Christian (7-7-1, 2-3 CSL) on Friday. First pitch against the Cavaliers is set for 4 p.m.
After, Selma will host Dinuba High School (5-8, 2-3 CSL) on April 9.