Baseball: Pioneers punch playoff ticket with two wins over Rangers

Mt.Whitney secures a narrow 3-2 victory over rival Redwood to end the year at .500 at clinch a spot in the playoffs

VISALIA – The Pioneers punched their playoff ticket with two wins over rival Redwood to end the regular season last week.

After rolling through the Rangers 7-2 on May 10, Mt. Whitney had to pitch well and play good defense to hold onto a one-run win on May 12. The wins against Redwood allowed Mt. Whitney to finish the season with a .500 record and earn a spot in the playoffs.

Pioneer pitcher Henry Vidak said he knew the game would be close but that Mt. Whitney had more to play for than Reddwood. 

“I knew we were going to win,” Vidak said. 

The Rangers brought the heat in the first inning as Brody Block sent a left field hit all the way to the back fence. With Block on third, Mikey Ramirez was facing a full count when he rocketed the ball right past the pitcher, bringing in Block for the first run of the game. 

The second inning was a smashing hit for the Pioneers as they began to fight back offensively. Zach Mell was first up at bat sending the ball to deep left for a double. A powerful line drive by JT Guerero brought in Mell and earned himself an RBI double. After Guerero stole third, Omar Ponce landed his own powerful hit that brought Guerero home.

The third inning began and ended quickly. Redwood’s Ty Potts sent a hit right past Mt. Whitney’s short stop sending the Pioneers into a desperate scramble to get Potts out at first while Joey Rico snuck home after stealing second. Though they failed to get him out, the Pioneers defense worked tirelessly for the rest of the game helping the team shut out the Rangers in the last four innings of the game. 

The game was tied heading into the fourth inning and Mt. Whitney made quick of the Rangers, facing just four batters in the top of the fourth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, the Pioneers’ Guerero knocked another hit and snuck his way to third base. Ponce hit a sacrifice fly to right field allowing Guerero to score the game winning run. 

In the sixth inning, Redwood pitcher Joey Rico struck out three of four Mt. Whitney batters while Vidak put on a similar show for Mt. Whitney striking out three Rangers in a row and closing out the win for the 3-2 win for the Pioneers. 

“We all played like a team and played our butts off,” Vidak said. 

Despite the loss, Redwood ended the season with a 10-5 record (16-11 overall) and finished first in the West Yosemite League. The 13th seeded Rangers traveled to Bakersfield Christian yesterday, May 17 to take on the No. 4 Eagles in the Division II Central Section playoffs. 

Mt. Whitney ended with a record of 14-14 and finished fourth in the West Yosemite League. The Pioneers enter the Division III Central Section playoffs as the 15th seed and traveled to Santa Maria, Calif. to take on the second seeded Pioneer Valley Panthers yesterday, May 17. 

Both games were held after press time.

Start typing and press Enter to search