Baseball: Miners emerge from mistake filled rivalry game

El Diamante wins their last regular season game against Golden West as Trailblazers mistakes late ended up benign more costly than the Miners’ early errors

VISALIA – El Diamante ended their regular season with a win against their rivals and a win in the season series against Golden West.

The May 12 rivalry game was riddled with errors as the Miners’ mistakes came early in the game while the Trailblazers came at the end of the game. The late game errors by Golden West broke a 3-3 tie and gave the winning runs to El Diamante for a 5-3 win.

The first run of the game was the result of a series of errors by the Miners. El Diamante starting pitcher Branson Campbell hit the Trailblazers’ first batter to put a runner on first. On the next batter, shortstop Elijah Martinez got the out, but allowed the runner to move to second. The Golden West baserunner was attempting to steal third when Miners’ catcher Nick Senn sent an errant throw to third. The runner scored on the play giving Golden West a 1-0 lead before Campbell was able to strike out a batter and force another into an out.

“If those mistakes stay inside your mind for the rest of the game, there is no more game to play,” El Diamante head coach Andrew Riddle said. 

The Miners mentally moved on quickly and went to work at the plate in the bottom of the first inning. El Diamante’s Joey Fagundes hit a ground ball to Golden West’s shortstop, who made an error of his own, putting Fagundes on first with two outs. Next at bat was Aidan Steele, who hit a double to left field, putting runners on second and third. With his error behind him, Senn hit an RBI single to the right-center gap, scoring both Fagundes and Steele for a 2-1 lead.

Golden West tied the game in the top of the second inning. Campbell walked the second batter, putting a runner on first with one out. The base runner then stole second base and into scoring position. The runner came home when the next batter hit a single to left field, tying the game at 2-2. Campbell struck out one and allowed a hit to another before Senn threw him out trying to steal second. 

The Trailblazers took the lead in the top of the third inning. Golden West’s leadoff hitter got a single against Campbell, putting a runner on first. The next batter hit a ground ball to Campbell, who got the out at first, but the runner advanced to second. The next batter hit a hard ground ball to Aidan Steele at first, who got the out by himself at first, but the runner on second advanced to third base. Campbell later threw a pass ball, and the runner from third scored, making the game 3-2. 

After throwing 51 pitches and walking another batter, Campbell was relieved by Trevor Hampel. The new Miners’ pitcher got a strikeout to end the top of the third inning.

El Diamante tied the game in the bottom of the third. Elijah Martinez was walked to first before stealing second base. Aidan Steele hit a single to left field, scoring Martinez for the tying run.

Defense dominated the next two innings. It wasn’t until the bottom of the sixth that either was able to break the 3-3 tie. El Diamante’s Matthew Bettencourt was walked and moved to second by a left field single from Jaron Nuckels, putting runners on the corners. Clayton Robles hit an RBI single to left field, scoring Bettencourt and moving Nuckels to third. Golden West’s pitcher threw a pass ball, letting Nuckels score and Robles advance to second base. The inning ended with the Miners leading 5-3. 

That was enough to win the game after Hampel struck out one and his infielders turned a double play to hold on for the win in the top of the seventh inning.

With the win, the Miners (8-7) finished in second place in the West Yosemite League as they owned the tiebreaker over Hanford (8-7) after winning the season series against the Bullpups last month. 

El Diamante earned the 14th seed and traveled to Morro Bay yesterday, May 17 to take on the Pirates in the opening round of the Division III Central Section playoffs. Golden West entered the Division IV playoffs as the 12th seed and traveled to Madera South to take on the Stallions on May 17. Both games were played after press time.

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