By Patrick Dillon @Pdillon_SGN
EXETER – A return trip to Recreation Park, and the Division IV title game for the No.2 Monarchs was cut short last Friday as they lost to the Chowchilla Tribe 4-2 in the quarterfinals.
“We just didn’t hit today,” Exeter head coach Kevin Kirkman said. “They threw a lot of breaking balls, and some of us didn’t adjust, and then when we did, they made the plays. That is one solid ball team.”
Exeter (20-10, 7-5) did get the longest hit of the evening in the bottom of the second inning. Caleb Reynoso took Chowchilla’s (15-11-1, 9-6) Hunter Stonier long for a solo home run over the left field wall to give Exeter a 1-0 lead.
“He crushed that one today,” Kirkman said. “He is a senior, and that is a nice way to go out.”
After the early homer, Exeter had only one more hit the entire game. In contrast Chowchilla had seven hits, and multiple chances to put runs on the scoreboard. Even before Exeter took the lead, Chowchilla had bases loaded in the first inning with no one out, but was unable to get a run in.
The constant baserunners by Chowchilla finally rendered the tying run in the top of the fourth. Westley Roberts hit a single back up the middle which scored Austin Hickman from second.
Two innings later Chowchilla took the lead for good after Exeter’s Jaykob Acosta gave up three straight hits to begin the inning. The third was a single to shallow left by Ronin Haley which scored the go ahead run on a play at the plate.
Haley then advance to second, and beat an attempt to throw him out. Chowchilla’s Cody Woolsey then scored from third, what ended up being the game winning run, to give the Tribe a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom half Preston Wiley scored Bryson Montano on an infield ground out to pull Exeter back within one run, 3-2.
However, the run was immediately taken back by Chowchilla in the seventh on an RBI double down the third base side.
The loss means Exeter will have to wait another year to contend for their first Valley Championship since 2014. In order to do so there will be some big holes to fill.
The biggest space to fill next year for Kirkman and his coaching staff will be the void left by Acosta on the mound. Acosta leaves Exeter with a 9-10 record, and a 1.24 ERA. He struck out 169 batters over the last two seasons, and only gave up a single home run.
“An Acosta comes around once in a while,” Kirkman said. “He is going to be hard to replace, but we’ve got some returners.”