Stirring late rally lifts Sanger baseball in Fowler

Apaches score twice in bottom of seventh to pull out victory over Firebaugh, regional baseball and softball teams shine in tournament action

Sanger High’s Andrew Moreno (34) stretches to touch home plate as teammate Jesus Cerda looks on as both runners scored on Evan Rodriguez’s two-run double in the third inning of the Apaches’ 5-4 comeback victory over Firebaugh High in the Fowler Easter Baseball Classic at Fowler High on March 25. Sanger roared back from an early four-run deficit, scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh to improve to 2-0 in the tournament. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published March 26, 2024  • 
11:00 am

FOWLER – Sanger High kept its championship hopes alive by the thinnest of margins during the rescheduled second day of action at the Fowler Easter Baseball Classic.

Trailing by four runs against Firebaugh High before their first at-bat, the Apaches chipped away and then scored the tying and winning runs on a wild pitch and error in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out a 5-4 victory on Monday afternoon. Sanger (10-3) improved to 2-0 in the tourney heading into a 4 p.m. matchup today against Lemoore (9-4), a 2-1 loser to Taft. 

Evan Rodriguez started on the mound and allowed the early outburst by an inspired Firebaugh (1-11), but fueled the comeback with a two-run double in the third to cut the deficit to 4-3. Sanger missed out on chances to the game following a pair of serious scoring opportunities before finally breaking through in its final at-bat.

With two outs and runners at second and third, Eagles pitcher Ines Felix fired a pitch in the dirt that bounced past the catcher. Max Torres scored the tying run with a head-first dive, and the throw squibbed past the catcher. Nate Rocha never stopped sprinting from second, scoring the winning run and setting off a celebration from his teammates.

The Apaches stayed close with clutch relief pitching from Jay Ruiz and Noah Abeytiah, and set the stage for a rematch with Lemoore after a loss to the Tigers in the finals of the Central Valley Diamond Classic on March 9. A win is likely to move the Apaches into a 7:30 p.m. championship game matchup on Wednesday, March 27.

Other Monday baseball and softball results:

Dinuba 6, McLane 1

The Emperors (5-9) also remain in the hunt for the Fowler Easter classic baseball title, getting two hits and three runs batted in from Daniel Pruneda to put away McLane for their second straight tourney victory.

Senior outfielder Pruneda doubled during a three-run outburst in the fifth, while Austin Hoover also doubled and went 3-for-4 to pace a seven hit attack. Pitchers Adrian Rubalcava and Jayce Prendez combined to limit the Highlanders to four hits and an unearned run in the second inning.

Dinuba (2-0 in the tourney) played Central Valley Christian this morning, and with a win could advance to the Wednesday championship final. The Emperors earlier scored an 11-1 rout of host team Fowler on March 16, and have won three of their last four games.

SOFTBALL

Dinuba wins twice, Reedley and Orange Cove 1-0

The three Mid Valley Times regional softball teams all opened with victories in the Fowler tournament on Monday, with the schedule pushed back a day after Saturday action was rained out. Dinuba High (4-8) won twice, erupting offensively to defeat Chowchilla, 14-5, and Shafter, 11-7.

Samantha Ortega and Olivia Patterson collected three hits apiece against Chowchilla, with Patterso knocking in four runs. In the win over Shafter, Ortega went 3-for-4 with a double and scored two runs.

Reedley (8-6) scored four runs in the fourth, opening a 9-2 lead powered by a pair of home runs and six RBI from catcher Candi Moreno, and cruised past Bakersfield, 9-4. The Pirates finished with 10 hits, three from Moreno and two each from Jocelyn Fonseca and Jaylene Vasquez.

Orange Cove (4-8) scored all its runs in the bottom of the third inning and cruised to a 5-2 win over Shafter High. Freshman Miah Lopez had a two-run single during the scoring outburst while sophomore Danika Del Bosque and freshman Kendra Talingo each collected two hits. Senior pitcher Mia Castillo struck out eight in six-inning complete game effort.

On March 26, Dinuba and Orange Cove meet at 4:30 p.m. while the Titans also play Chowchilla in a morning contest. Reedley also plays twice today, taking on Dos Palos in a morning matchup and then playing host Fowler at 6:30 p.m.

The top two teams by record and run differential will meet in the championship game at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 27.

Jon Earnest
Reporter