Sanger West baseball gains 2nd-place tie in NYL

Hornets’ strong pitching effort leads to 2-1 lead over Sunnyside High

Sanger West High’s Angel Martinez ducks and reacts after being hit in the back by a pitch in the fifth inning  of the Hornets’ 2-1 North Yosemite League baseball victory over Sunnyside High at SWHS on May 7. The junior right hander pitched five innings of three-hit ball, striking out eight to pick up the win. (Jon Earnest)
Sanger West High’s Angel Martinez ducks and reacts after being hit in the back by a pitch in the fifth inning of the Hornets’ 2-1 North Yosemite League baseball victory over Sunnyside High at SWHS on May 7. The junior right hander pitched five innings of three-hit ball, striking out eight to pick up the win. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published May 8, 2024  • 
12:00 pm

FRESNO – The Sanger West High Hornets have joined the second place logjam in the North Yosemite League baseball standings.

Pitchers Angel Martinez and Cesar Gonzalez combined to limit Sunnyside High to three hits while collecting 11 strikeouts Tuesday afternoon, and the Hornets pushed across single runs in the third and fourth innings to edge the Wildcats 2-1 at SWHS varsity diamond. Sanger West (18-10) joined Sunnyside, Hoover and Torres in a three-way tie at 8-5 behind NYL champion Fresno High.

Head coach Garrison Bennett said his squad showed its potential to compete in a pair of extra-inning losses to Fresno; 6-3 in eight innings on April 23 and 3-2 in 13 innings on April 26.

“We were right there,” he said. “We ultimately couldn’t make the plays when we needed to make them. But I think those games showed that we’re right there with the top of our league and can compete with anybody on any given day.”

Sanger West made the plays when needed against Sunnyside (9-16), getting RBI hits from Alijah Guzman in the third inning and Victor Valdez (2-for-3) in the fourth. Martinez and Gonzalez made the lead stand up, with Martinez fanning eight in five innings and Gonzalez collecting three strikeouts and a key double play to get the save.

“Our pitchers have been fantastic this year,” Bennett said. “We have two starters who dominate anytime they’re on the mound (Martinez and Elijah Guzman). They’re two of the best pitchers in the league and I would put them up against anybody. Any time they’re on the mound, we have a shot.”

The Hornets are based in Division III, but Bennett said some outside projections have the team as a possible higher seed in D-IV.

“They’ve really worked hard this year, and what I’ve really liked is that they’ve been coachable as we’ve gone through ups and downs,” he said of the team. “They’ve really worked hard to get better and to close their gaps, and want that ultimate goal of winning.”

Guzman likely will get the start when Sanger West closes out the regular season at Sunnyside in a 3:30 p.m. start Friday, May 10. Postseason brackets for Central Section playoffs will be announced on Saturday, May 11, with games starting on Tuesday, May 14.

Jon Earnest
Reporter