PHS win evens rivalry series 1-1

Round the bases Porterville High School baseball trotted after racking up 15 hits for a 14-0 shutout at rival Monache to even their East Yosemite League series at 1-1 with Tuesday’s win.

The Panthers’ bats were more than hot, raking in six doubles and 12 RBIs for a win that keeps them in position to claim at least a share of the EYL title. 

“With this group, if they come to play, they’re pretty good,” PHS head coach Mike Hill said. “We had a couple of those this year, that we didn’t come out ready to play, but they know what’s at stake. You win two and you’re champions. And I think that says a lot. We came out ready to play.”

Porterville (20-5, 11-3 EYL) opened the game up in the second inning with an RBI from Brandon Clingerman, followed by an RBI-bunt by Dominic Alcantar. Clingerman and Matt Rangel were both on base during Alcantar’s at-bat but while Alcantar’s bunt brought in Rangel, a miscommunication left first base open, and without a fielder there to catch MHS pitcher Ricky Alba’s throw to first, the ball went to the outfield while Rangel scored and Alcantar went to second. The Panthers scored one more run before the inning ended and put the Marauders’ in a 4-0 hole.

Monache (15-11, 7-7 EYL) was able to hold Porterville scoreless through the next three innings but at the same time, the Panthers weren’t giving anything up defensively and only Aaron Hernandez, Matthew Cloyd and Tori Powell managed to get a hit apiece for the Marauders.

Noah Munoz got the start on the mound, and along with Cameron “CJ” Fish in relief, Porterville pitched a gem of a game with a top-notch defensive performance from their infield and outfield backing them up. Munoz went four innings, giving up just two hits and two walks with one strikeout for the win. In three innings of relief, Fish allowed no runs on one hit and had two strikeouts.

“CJ can pitch,” Hill said. “He’s had some arm problems and we haven’t had to use him a lot early but he’s really been throwing kind of as our closer. But I came in to today [thinking] Noah’s thrown a lot of innings so he was going to go four. Period. And then I have enough trust — I mean CJ was our No. 2 guy two years ago. So you know, he can pitch.”

Every single one of Porterville’s starters got a hit with Fish leading the way and going 2-for-3 with two doubles, a RBI and a run scored. Clingerman was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and a RBI; Seth Correa was 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored; and Daniel Perez had a double and two RBIs. Batting cleanup for the Panthers was Sanitago Sanchez, who went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBIs.

“I think we got some big hits,” Hill said. “Santiago Sanchez had two really bad at-bats and then after that he made an adjustment and really swung the bat. And that’s all you can ask for. You can have bad at-bats in this game but it’s how you respond to those. It’s a game of a failure but we swung the bats pretty good today.”

Porterville tacked on five runs in the sixth with back-to-back RBI-doubles from Perez and Fish, a two-run RBI-double by Sanchez and Sanchez scoring on a passed ball. Alba exited the game in the top of the sixth after giving up nine runs on 10 hits, two hit batters and one walk with one strikeout through 5 1/3 innings. He was relieved by Carabay who gave up just one hit to close the inning.

“I thought their kid [Alba] pitched really well,” Hill said. “I think they broke down a little bit on defense but they’ll be ready for us Thursday. They’re a good club. A.J. did a good job with them. So we’ve got to come ready to play and if we don’t, it’s going to be, you know.

The Panthers finished with a five-run, two-out rally in the seventh with pinch hitter, Andruw Gutierrez, hitting a RBI-double to get things started. 

With the win, Porterville picked up their 20th victory of the season and marked their second 20-win season since 2017. The team had 19 wins last season.

With both teams trying to finish the regular season strong before starting their respective CIF Central Section Division playoffs, Monache gets one more chance at Porterville Thursday with a 4:30 p.m. road game. The Marauders had luck at the Panthers’ field last month in a 2-0 win. 

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