SELMA - For the Selma Bears to clinch it’s second-straight Central Sequoia League championship, the Bears needed heroics in extra innings to defeat its rival Kingsburg on Thursday.
With two outs and the bases loaded for the Bears in the eighth inning, it was a situation that provided a golden opportunity for outfielder Leo Arreguin.
The junior, who is Selma’s leadoff hitter, knocked in the game-tying and winning runs on a double that gave the Bears a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Vikings at Allen Cropsey Diamond at Bobby Cox Field.
“Just find a way [to hit],” Arreguin said about his walk-off double. “Find a way.”
The two-run double gave Arreguin three RBIs against Kingsburg and the walk-off hit was part of a 2-for-4 night at the plate. Arreguin’s other RBI hit was a run-scoring single that tied the game 2-2 in the fourth inning. The outfielder knocked in Nick Lopez on the play.
As for Arreguin’s walk-off hit, Lazaro Bush - who pitched run for Isaiah Gastelum - and Adam Rodriguez scored on the game-winning two-run double.
“Both them and us, we both played hard,” Arreguin said about the win over the Vikings. “Kudos to our team. We had a good season. We just have to be ready for playoffs now.”
Selma (22-4, 10-2 CSL) shares the 2019 league title with Immanuel (22-6, 10-2 CSL). Both teams are were also co-champions last season. It’s first time the Bears won back-to-back CSL championships since the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Like last season, it took Selma until the final CSL game of the year to clinch a league championship.
The Bears and Eagles are also the top two ranked teams in this year’s Central Section Division III playoffs. Selma is No. 1 while Immanuel is No. 2.
In a league-winning season that featured multiple come from behind victories, the win over Kingsburg was Selma’s first to come in walk-off fashion this year.
“They’re just resilient,” Bears’ head coach John Hollett said. “They don’t have any doubt on their mind that they’re going to come back. It doesn’t matter who it is, It doesn’t matter how it’s going to be.”
In the top of the eighth inning, the Vikings took a 3-2 lead with an RBI single from Ray Castro that knocked in Daniel Ingrao from second base. Castro advanced all the way to third after an error from Selma.
It was Kingsburg’s second lead of the game. The first time the Vikings were ahead was a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Ethan Wenter cut Kingsburg’s lead 2-1 in the bottom half of the third with an RBI single that scored Ryan Naranjo.
Gastelum was the winning pitcher for the Bears while Dalton Alford of the Vikings was on the losing end.
For the third-straight start, Alford pitched at least seven innings, but he recorded double-digit strikeouts for the first time this season. The junior was on the mound for 7 ⅔ innings and fanned 10 batters.
“We battled,” Alford said. “It was a hard fought game, probably the best game I’ve ever played.”
Kingsburg (10-18, 4-8 CSL) won the first meeting against Selma earlier this season. The Vikings won 3-2 at home on April 2.
“I can’t say enough about coach [Jim] Cranford and the job he has done,” Hollett said about Kingsburg. “The have a toughness in them that some of the Kingsburg teams haven’t had in the past, but it’s a battle. Every single time it’s a battle.”
“It’s a rivalry right? That’s why we call it a rivalry game.”
After accomplishing a league title, a Valley championship is next on the list for Selma.
“That’s the next thing right?,” Hollett said. “Four more wins.”
Selma will begin it’s postseason run today against No. 16 Templeton (5-16-1, 2-10 Mountain League) in the first round of the Division III playoffs. The top-seeded Bears are aiming for it’s first playoff win since 2016. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Selma High School.
As the No. 3 seed last season, Selma got eliminated in the first round after a 7-4 loss to No. 14 Madera South.