GHHS comes back to beat Orosi 3-2

The way Granite Hills High School baseball celebrated Monday’s 3-2 comeback over Orosi in the Ron Robinson Tournament at Woodlake High School, you would’ve thought the Grizzlies just won a championship.

But the win was important to Granite Hills for two reasons: it ends a six-game losing streak and keeps their playoff hopes alive.

“It keeps us alive,” GHHS head coach Al Garcia said. “We’re 7-8 in our division so we need one more, hopefully we pick up in this tournament, in Division VI. If not, it’s going to have to be that Lindsay game. So I think we’re just happy because we’ve given up, five of the last six losses, the Strathmore one included, we were up in the seventh inning all those games. And we made the mistakes … so today kind of felt like the monkey off our back and we got one back. I think that was part of the emotion, but it did feel good.”

For Granite Hills (8-13, 2-7 ESL), Rene Lopez pitched a gem of a complete game to get the win. He allowed two runs — one earned — on five hits, two walks and one hit batter. Lopez also tallied five strikeouts.

The Grizzlies gave up two runs to the Cardinals (3-13-1) in the second and fifth inning, but Granite Hills came together for a thrilling finish in the bottom of the sixth.

Getting started with a lead-off double from Chris Duran, the Grizzlies scored their first run of the game when Duran came in on a passed ball during the next at-bat. Still at the plate, Christian Chavez, hit a grounder that forced Orosi’s first baseman to pull his foot off the bag to make the catch and Chavez was safe at first. 

On the next at-bat, Chavez stole second, then after being walked, Randy Leon took another base and his slide into second occupied Orosi’s midfielders while Chavez came home safely to tie the game at 2-all. 

Orosi finally got an out when Jason Alvarez hit a flyball to the outfield, but it moved Leon to third. The Cardinals’ walked Lopez but in the next at-bat, Lopez went to steal second and the throw down the middle got him out, but it also allowed Leon to score the game-winning run.  

“They kind of helped us out,” Garcia said. “They kind of made some mental mistakes at the end. They were playing pretty good defense and their boy was throwing really hard. … They were almost a different team when we put pressure on them. … But then when we put the pressure on them, and the momentum shifted to us.”

After forcing a groundout to GHHS shortstop Jovani Ventura, two flyouts to the outfield, and giving up just one run in the top of the seventh; Lopez rushed to hug his catcher Rene Lopez after the final out of the game.

“Rene pitched really well,” Garcia said. “Defensively, our third baseman Jovani, it’s kind of his second game playing at third, but he played some really good baseball. Alonso [Bedolla] could hardly move. So we’re pretty beat up this time of the year. But Alonso came through with some hits and it was almost like Kirk Gibson where he could just hobble on over there.” 

Reminiscent of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kirk Gibson hitting a two-run home run in the 1988 World Series on two injured knees and limping around the bases, Bedolla went 2-for-2 at the plate and limped his way to first each time. He was the only Granite Hills player to get more than one hit. 

Up next, Granite Hills plays Dos Palos at 3 p.m. today for another tournament game at Woodlake High School. The Grizzlies return to East Sequoia League play next Tuesday, April 23, with a game against Sierra Pacific (16-2, 9-0 ESL).

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