Eagles baseball tightens hold on first place

Immanuel pounds out 19 hits to trounce Hanford West, builds two-game lead in the loss column in Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division

Immanuel High second baseman Julian Ornelas fires to first base to complete a double play as shortstop SJ Ramirez looks on and Hanford West’s Kailin Hwang (3) slides in during the fifth inning of the Eagles’ 14-2 victory over the Huskies in a Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division baseball matchup in Hanford on April 16.. (Jon Earnest)
Immanuel High second baseman Julian Ornelas fires to first base to complete a double play as shortstop SJ Ramirez looks on and Hanford West’s Kailin Hwang (3) slides in during the fifth inning of the Eagles’ 14-2 victory over the Huskies in a Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division baseball matchup in Hanford on April 16.. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published April 17, 2024  • 
11:00 am

HANFORD – It didn’t take much time for Immanuel High to open up a little breathing space in the Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division baseball standings.

The Eagles opened Tuesday afternoon’s division contest at Hanford West High with four consecutive hits on their way to a seven-run first inning. The offense never let up, collecting 19 hits and adding five runs in the seventh to cruise to a 14-2 victory that put Immanuel (12-6, 3-1) two games ahead in the loss column against three other TCC Sequoia rivals.

Eagles head coach Steve Ramirez was impressed with the team’s hot hitting to open the game against the Huskies (7-13, 2-5), along with offensive execution. Of the team’s 19 hits, 17 were singles in addition to two doubles. 

“We knew their pitchers would throw strikes, so the game plan was just to put the ball in play and good things would happen,” he said. “We opened it up and it was a great game for us. And we got great pitching, (starter) Ryan Hoenig did an amazing job.”

The senior righthander worked five innings, scattering four hits and allowing two earned runs with a strikeout and two walks to earn the win. Sophomore Julian Ornelas and senior Cole Padgett each worked an inning of score relief, allowing just one hit.

It was the Immanuel hitting attack that dominated the game, raining line drive and ground ball hits to all fields through the afternoon. The Eagles were even able to overcome a rare double play on the basepaths in the top of the fourth inning. CJ Ramirez and Eli Garay singled to lead off the inning, and Nic Coleman (3-for-5) lined a long drive to center that was cut off on a hop.

Ramirez got a late jump to run toward third and Garay was hot on his tail in pursuit, and both runners raced for home as the throw came in. Huskies catcher King Mitre tagged Ramirez who slid head-first into home, then pivoted and tagged out Garay who unsuccessfully tried to dodge the swipe.

Nonetheless the Eagles had their way against three HW pitchers. Coleman, Ramirez and Ornelas each finished with three hits while Aiden Vossler, Garay and Padgett chipped in with two hits apiece. Coleman chipped in with four runs batted in and a team-high 11th double of the season to lift his season batting average to a team-best .510.

Steve Ramirez enjoyed the opportunity to give his reserves playing time with the lopsided score.

“I got to clear the bench, so everybody pretty much got an at-bat and then got everybody a couple of innings of playing time,” he said. “It’s nice when you can get a (big) lead and can make sure you get everybody in.”

The Eagles will host Hanford West at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, then have two evening games next week against second place Selma (10-10, 4-3). The teams square off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 23 in Selma before a 6:30 p.m. game Thursday, April 25 at The Yard in the Immanuel Sports Complex.

The TCC Sequoia Division pennant race heats up down the stretch as Immanuel plays Exeter (14-5, 3-3) twice before closing with three division games with city rival Reedley High (7-11, 3-3).

Jon Earnest
Reporter