CENTRAL VALLEY DIAMOND CLASSIC: Sanger roars back from 6-run deficit to remain unbeaten

Apaches score nine runs in its final two at-bat innings to post 10-6 victory over Sierra Pacific, host Lemoore in CVDC title game on March 9

Sanger High shortstop Zak Cuellar prepares to fire a throw to first base to retire a Sierra Pacific batter during the Apaches’ 10-6 comeback victory over the Golden Bears in a non-league baseball game on March 7. Sanger roared back from a 6-0 deficit in the first inning, scoring nine runs during its final two innings to improve to a perfect 7-0 for the season. (Jon Earnest)
Sanger High shortstop Zak Cuellar prepares to fire a throw to first base to retire a Sierra Pacific batter during the Apaches’ 10-6 comeback victory over the Golden Bears in a non-league baseball game on March 7. Sanger roared back from a 6-0 deficit in the first inning, scoring nine runs during its final two innings to improve to a perfect 7-0 for the season. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published March 8, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – Sanger High is on the cusp of a memorable baseball season, if the results of Wednesday’s Central Valley Diamond Classic are any indication.

The Apaches were pounced on early by visiting Sierra Pacific High, giving up six runs in the top of the first and being held in check through the middle innings. But they roared to life in the fifth and sixth innings, scoring a combined nine runs to pull out a 10-6 victory to improve to a perfect 7-0 on the season.

It also placed Sanger in a position to capture the tournament title on Saturday, March 9 at 6 p.m. against Lemoore High (5-2) , a 9-1 winner over Reedley on Wednesday. The contest will be played at Sanger High varsity diamond.

Coach David Cuellar praised the perseverance of his team in remaining focused and pulling out the victory.

“Games like this can reveal the true character of a team,” he said. “Down 6-0, one out in the first inning with nothing going our way could have just sank this team. We kept our heads cool and found a way to win.”

Senior third baseman Andrew Moreno capped off the comeback with his second hit of the game, driving in the go-ahead run in the sixth as Sanger pushed across five runs. The Apaches crept within 6-5 with a four-run outburst in the fifth inning. 

Sanger High third baseman Andrew Moreno tags out Sierra Pacific baserunner Nathan Chavez during the first inning of the Apaches’ 10-6 comeback victory over the Golden Bears in a non-league baseball game on March 7. The visitors scored six runs in the first inning, but Sanger countered with nine runs during its final two innings at bat to improve to a perfect 7-0 for the season. (Jon Earnest)

Sophomore lefthander Max Torres also was a key to the victory, coming on in relief of starter Joe Morales in the first inning and working the final six frames allowing just one hit and striking out six. He also went 2-for-3 at the plate and knocked in a pair of runs.

“Max was able to come in and shut out a really good Sierra Pacific offense,” Cuellar said. “That gave us a chance to crawl back.”

First baseman Jesus Cerda singled, scored twice and drove in a run while Nathan Rocha went 2-for-4 with an RBI. The Apaches finished with nine hits while posting their fifth double-dig runs output of the campaign.

“Our offense has been a constant plus the first part of the season,” Cuellar said. “We made adjustments throughout the game and found ways to get on base. There’s a lot of baseball left in the season. (We) need to keep getting better.”

In other CVDC games on Wednesday:

Lemoore 9, Reedley 1

At Reedley High, the Tigers scored four runs in the first inning and three more in the fourth to cruise past the Pirates (2-4). Ian Snell went 3-for-4 with a run-scoring double and drove in two runs while Nick Johnson had two hits including an RBI double in the first.

Hayden Keeney scattered four hits and struck out seven in a complete game performance. Senior shortstop Darren Ortiz went 2-for-2 and drove in the Pirates’ lone run in the fifth inning. Mason Cisneros went 1-for-3 while Braden Ortiz was 1-for-3 with a run scored. Senior Jacob Silva took the pitching loss, allowing seven runs on seven hits in four innings of work.

The Pirates will play an opponent yet to be determined (site and time to be announced) on Saturday, March 9 to close out CVDC play.

Golden West 11, Dinuba 1

At Visalia, the Emperors fell to 1-7 on the season as the host Trailblazers (4-5) scored three runs in the first inning and then blew the game open with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the third.

Dinuba will play an opponent yet to be determined on Saturday, March 9 to close out CVDC play. The Emperors will open the West Yosemite League season with a 7 p.m. home game against Hanford High on Thursday, March 14.

Jon Earnest
Reporter