No. 4 Porterville beats No. 5 Arroyo Grande, face No. 1 San Joaquin in semis
“When you pitch and play defense you have a chance.”
Porterville High School’s head baseball coach Mike Hill stresses this after every game — and probably every practice too.
But with the fourth-seeded Panthers’ bats taking some time to warm up in Saturday’s CIF Central Section Division II quarterfinal game at home against the fifth-seeded Eagles of Arroyo Grande (15-13), Porterville (22-5, 12-3 EYL) needed to play solid defense. And they did.
On the mound, PHS starting pitcher Noah Munoz gave up three runs on seven hits, two walks and three strikeouts through 4 ⅔ innings but he was able to keep Porterville in the game and notch the win in the Panthers’ 5-3 victory over the Eagles.
“Noah kept us in the game, you know he gave up those two runs but he battled,” Hill said. “With these guys, you have to throw the off-speed pitch. They’re dead fastball hitters. They’re very physical, very physical team. Very offensive team. We didn’t do a whole lot offensively but when we scored the four, we did all that with two outs.”
Two outs, down 2-0 and Porterville High School’s bats were struggling to start the bottom of the third inning. But then came the top of the lineup and some relief.
Leadoff Daniel Perez reached on an error, Cameron Fish was walked and Ricky Carranza was hit by a pitch from AGHS pitcher Dean Hopper to load the bases. Hopper, who had already hit three batters, hit PHS cleanup hitter, Santiago Sanchez, to bring in Perez for the Panthers’ first run of the game.
But there was still two outs and Porterville needed some breathing room. They got it from Fish, John Herrera and Seth Correa.
From third base during Herrera’s at-bat, Fish scored on a passed ball to tie the score at 2-all. Then on a full count, Herrea hit an RBI-single to center field to put the Panthers ahead 3-2. Correa followed up with another hit up the middle for an RBI-single and what would be the winning run. Hopper was pulled after Correa’s hit and Andrew McCoy finished the game for the Eagles.
“They kind of helped us out a little bit and we got two big hits,” Hill said. “We got hits when we needed them and to win games like that, you’ve got to get those hits. But our defense is very good.”
Herrera was the only Panther to get two hits, going 2 for 3 with two RBIs. It was his first multi-hit game since April 16.
“He’d been struggling a little bit and he got two huge hits today for us and we needed him,” Hill said.
The Eagles put the Panthers’ defense to work but Porterville held steady with big plays from just about every fielder. In the first it was, second baseman Fish throwing a runner out at home to keep Arroyo Grande off the board. Then Brandon Clingerman made a difficult snag in left field to end the second while Correa had a diving play at third base in the fifth.
And in the top of the seventh, right fielder Dominic Alcantar made an outstanding catch at the warning track that all about destroyed the Eagles’ belief in a comeback until reliever Will Hipps stuck out the final batter — with the tying and winning run on first and second — to end the game. Hipps went 2 ⅓ innings with no runs on two hits, one walk and one strikeout to get the save.
“That’s a big play,” Hill said about Alcantar’s catch. “And that’s why he’s out there. He can run, he hits ninth for us, but he’s a very good defensive player.”
Arroyo Grande finished their final defensive outing in the sixth with three errors, one of which allowed Clingerman to score Porterville’s final run of the game.
The Panthers’ finished with just five hits and one walk but were hit by pitches five times and reached on error three times. Sanchez and Carranza were both hit twice while Fish was the only one to draw a walk.
“I know I stress this every time but when you pitch and play defense you have a chance,” Hill said. “We had a chance, we weren’t great offensively, but we had a chance because we stayed in the game.”
Up next for Porterville is an even bigger challenge in top-seed San Joaquin Memorial (25-5). Both teams are on an eight-game win streak.
“I love it,” Hill said. “Funny thing about them, I played with all those coaches over there. Their pitching coach John Salles was the ace on my Fresno State team. They’re Fresno State guys and that’s where I come from and I’m excited. These kids want the challenge, we’ll see how it goes.”
Twelfth-seeded Lindsay High School baseball defeated 13th-seed Roosevelt 8-7 in a CIF Central Section Division VI quarterfinal game Friday at home.
The Cardinals (11-15) gave up five runs in the top of the third to trail 5-0 but scored a run in the third and three more in the fifth to cut the Rough Riders’ lead to 6-4 after Roosevelt scored another run in the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth Lindsay scored four runs to take the lead.
Both Nick Dunning and Isaac Munoz went 2 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Ryan Scheufele had two RBIs and a run scored. Julio Godoy had two RBIs.
Aaron Macias got the win on the mound for Lindsay after going 3 ⅔ innings with two runs on one hit, one walk and four strikeouts. Dunning got the save after ⅓ inning with no runs on one hit. In the start, Angel Perez allowed five runs - two earned - on four hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
Lindsay travels to top-seed Bishop Union (16-4) Wednesday for a semifinal game.
Fifth-seeded Monache High School baseball defeated 13th-seed Yosemite 12-7 in a CIF Central Section Division IV quarterfinal game at home Friday.
Monache (17-12) hosts ninth-seed Bakersfield Christian (16-14) Wednesday for a semifinal game.