Monache drops title game 4-1 to Chowchilla

The whirlwind 2019 baseball season came to a close for Monache High School in heartbreaking fashion, with a 4-1 loss to Chowchilla in the CIF Central Section Division IV Championship game at Fresno State’s Pete Beiden Field at Bob Bennet Stadium Saturday morning.

Playing from behind, like in Wednesday’s 7-6 win walk-off victory over No. 9 Bakersfield Christian, the Marauders (18-13) fell short of winning the program’s second Valley title since 1991 after loading the bases but not scoring in the sixth and then giving up two more runs in the seventh.

Down 2-1 to start the bottom of the sixth, Monache’s Ricky Alba got things started with a hit up the left side for the team’s third hit of the day. Aidan Galvan moved Alba over on a sacrifice bunt, then Chowchilla (17-11-1) pitcher Noah Linares walked Daniel Andrade and hit Matthew Cloyd in the helmet to load the bases.

With only one out, the seventh-seeded Tribe brought in relief pitcher Noah Ramos to face Monache’s Aaron Hernandez. On a 2-2 count, Hernandez hit a grounder into a double play that got him out at first and Alba out at home to end the inning. It was the only inning all game the Marauders’ ever got a runner to third base.

Monache’s lone run was scored by senior Anthony Carabay, who hit a home run over the left field fence off Linhares on the first pitch in the bottom of the third. It was the first and only home run of the season for the Marauders.

After only getting one hit through the first two innings from Andrade, Carabay’s home run felt like a game changer but Monache went down in order to end the inning. The only other Marauder to get a hit besides Andrade, Carabay and Alba was Alexza Sandoval, who had a double in the seventh.

Chowchilla scored their game-winning run in the first inning off a 2-run RBI-double from Austin Hickman. The Tribe tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh with an RBI-single from Ramos, who then scored on a bad throw to third base. Ramos and Hunter Stonier scored two runs apiece for Chowchilla.

Starting pitcher, junior Tori Powell, took the loss on the mound for Monache after allowing two runs on two hits, four walks, one batter hit and three strikeouts through four innings. Alba relieved Powell in the fifth and went three innings with two runs on one hit, one walk, one batter hit and one strikeout.

MHS head coach A.J. Watts described the team as “workers” and said the hardest part about the loss was saying goodbye to this year’s team.

“I know for me personally, the loss stings, and that will fade, but I have to say goodbye to a team,” Watts said. “For Coach Hill, and Coach Reece, and Coach Garcia and coaches around the Valley, that’s the hardest part about a year ending. And the feeling you have if you win this game, you lose this game, or you don’t make the playoffs, or you lose in the first round; when you have to say bye, not only to seniors but to that team — because every team is so unique — I think that’s what gets everybody shook up."

After one of the program’s most successful seasons in over a decade the Marauders are graduating 10 seniors including Alba, Cloyd, Hernandez, Carabay and Nieto, but should return four starters.

“I think the most special thing about this senior group is their ability to face adversity and keep going and going,” Watts said. “Coaching change three years ago. Win nine games, win 11 games and now all of a sudden we’re playing meaningful baseball games with four games left in the EYL. We’ve just come off a Pro-PT Lower Division championship. And then all of a sudden, we’re in the Valley championship game and it’s like well wait a second, this is all going pretty quick. So their ability to face adversity I think would probably be No. 1 in a long list of intangibles.”

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