PREP BASEBALL: Reedley baseball collects vital TCC victory

Extra-inning triumph at Hanford West keeps Pirates’ in hunt for postseason, Immanuel trounces Exeter while Huerta powers Dinuba past Tulare Union

Hanford West High outfielder Kailin Hwang (3) reacts after tagging out Reedley High’s Brandon Silva when Silva attempted to dive back into third base during the Pirates’ 7-6 baseball victory over the Huskies in eight innings May 2 in Hanford. Reedley (9-14, 5-4 Tri-County Sequoia) rallied from behind twice and scored a single run in the eighth inning to remain a game back of first place Immanuel High. (Jon Earnest)
Hanford West High outfielder Kailin Hwang (3) reacts after tagging out Reedley High’s Brandon Silva when Silva attempted to dive back into third base during the Pirates’ 7-6 baseball victory over the Huskies in eight innings May 2 in Hanford. Reedley (9-14, 5-4 Tri-County Sequoia) rallied from behind twice and scored a single run in the eighth inning to remain a game back of first place Immanuel High. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published May 3, 2024  • 
11:00 am

HANFORD – Two comebacks and a gutsy pitching performance by Ryan Velasquez helped Reedley High keep its postseason hopes alive in a crowded Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division baseball pennant chase.

Senior righthander Velasquez worked through early trouble to pitch an eight innings complete game Thursday afternoon, allowing just one run in the final five innings as the Pirates rallied twice to pull out a 7-6 victory over Hanford West High. Reedley (9-14, 5-4) sits in fifth place but remained just one game back of first place Immanuel High heading into three critical games with the Eagles to close out the regular season.

“Our biggest thing is we’ve got to just focus on us and do our job, wherever we’re at,” RHS head coach Russ Sauceda said. “We need to win (at least) one out of the next three, that’s for sure. With nine seniors (on the team), they’re deserving to go (to postseason) but those nine have got to pull their weight for us to go.”

Velasquez did his part, shaking off a pair of shaky innings in the first and third to keep Reedley in position to win. After the Pirates took the lead in the top of the eighth on a wild pitch, he closed out strong, retiring the Huskies in order including a strikeout.

Sauceda said Velasquez had struggled during TCC play but looked impressive throwing in the bullpen this week.

“I thought he had a little more zip on the ball today and definitely had the stamina to get us through those tough innings,” he said. “He was able to buckle up and get us out of there, and that was big.”

Reedley overcame a number of baserunning mistakes that short-circuited potential big innings, but managed to come back from a two-run deficit and one-run hole in the fourth. Gage Betancourt delivered a two-run double during a three-run third inning and Brandon Silva launched a run-scoring triple to tie the game in the fourth before getting tagged out at third trying to dive back into third base.

Darren Ortiz (2-for-4) gave the Pirates a 6-5 lead in the fifth before Hanford West (7-18, 2-10) tied it in the seventh. Reedley responded right back in the top of the eighth as Donnie Mariscal doubled and later came home on Michael Ritchie’s wild pitch.

Reedley hosts Immanuel in a makeup contest at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 4 at RHS varsity park. The Pirates and Eagles then square off in a 6:30 p.m. start on Tuesday, May 7 (at Immanuel Sports Complex) and Thursday, May 9 (RHS) to close out the regular season.

In other baseball games on Thursday:

Immanuel 20, Exeter 3

At Exeter High, the Eagles (15-8, 6-3) avenged a loss to the Monarchs two days earlier by pounding out 16 hits on the evening and jumping out to an 8-0 lead after one inning. Senior Eli Garay (2-for-3) drove in four runs and scored four runs while Lucas Pettit (3-for-6) had three hits and three RBI. Julian Ornelas (3-for-4) scored three runs and Nic Coleman drove in three.

Coleman worked six innings for the pitching decision, allowing six hits and striking out six.

Dinuba 12, Tulare Union 8

At Dinuba, the Emperors (8-17, 4-8 West Yosemite) built an 11-0 lead after three innings before holding on to put away the last-place Tribe in an evening contest.

Senior third baseman Paul Huerta had a big night going 3-for-3, belting a home run and double while driving in four runs and scoring twice. The homer came during a seven-run second inning outburst. Austin Hoover and Matthew Guido each had two hits as the Emps finished with 10 hits.

Pitcher Austin Kelly picked up his fourth victory of the season, striking out six and allowing six hits in five innings while allowing five unearned runs in the fourth. Dinuba finished the regular season with three games next week against Mission Oak High.

Jon Earnest
Reporter