Exeter sweeps Washington Union in weekend double header, CSL opener Friday

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By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

EXETER – It has been four years since the Monarchs have found themselves at the top of the Central Sequoia League. Yet, that has always been the goal according to head coach Kevin Kirkman. On Friday, March 15, Exeter embarks on their potential rise to the top of the CSL during their home opener against the Immanuel Eagles at 7 p.m.

“We are going to have to play well both offensively and defensively in order to beat Immanuel,” Kirkman said.

Immanuel (7-1) enters the season as the defending champion of the CSL, and has already tallied some impressive wins this season. Two of those wins came against upper division competition such as the Independence Falcons, and Garces Memorial Rams, who Immanuel defeated by a combined score of 27-4.

Immanuel also has a strong, pitching rotation. Three of thier pitchers combined for an .83 batting average.

Although, Immanuel is the front runner heading into CSL play they are only the tip of one of the toughest leagues a Tulare County team is a member of year-in-and-year-out. This season the four teams with winning records including Exeter, combined for a 24-8-1 record.

The Central Valley Christian Cavaliers (5-3-1) seem to be back on track as they boast a winning record for the first time since their second-place finish in the Division V Section Championship in 2017.

The CSL has so many potential front runners in it that even teams with losing records in past years have had their chance near the top, or at least play spoiler. One of those teams this season could be the Dinuba Emperors (3-4). One game below .500 for the season, they have won two out of their last three games.

The sheer difficulty of the CSL made Exeter’s sweep of the Washington Union Panthers (3-7, 1-0) during their final non-league contest before this Friday even more of a success.

“These were good bounce back wins for us,” Kirkman said.

In the first game Exeter defeated Washington Union 9-6, and saw a sophomore rise to the calling and secure the win.

Exeter’s number two pitcher Brian Roach got his third start of the season. He was beginning to settle into a groove in the top of the sixth after Exeter took a 9-5 lead when he felt something pop in his right, throwing, elbow. He left the game, and it is unclear what his injury is.

“Losing Roach is a big loss,” Kirkman said. “He always gives us a chance.”

Christian Farias entered the game in relief, and got his first save of the season. It took him 23 pitches to retire all six batters he faced, and only allowed one run.

“It was nice to see a sophomore stepping up,” Kirkman said.

The second game featured offensive and defensive clinics by the Monarchs during their 13-0 win.

On the mound for Exeter was their ace and CSU Bakersfield signee Jaykob Acosta. He threw five innings and had seven strikeouts to two walks on his way to getting his first win of the season.

At the plate Jaycob Aurelio had the best performance for the Monarchs. He went a perfect 3-3 with four RBIs and scored a run. He was only one of three Monarchs who had multiple hits in the second game.

But it was the improvements in the Monarchs’ defense which impressed Kirkman the most. In 14 innings Exeter committed just one throwing error. This is after committing nine errors in a 7-3 loss to the Monache Marauders two weeks ago.

“Every inning I could see their confidence building,” Kirkman.

Kirkman is leaning toward starting Acosta during their home opener against Immanuel, but ensures his options are open. If Exeter decides to pitch their ace it could be a battle of two top pitchers with Immanuel throwing Roman Rosales. Rosales has a 3-1 record with 37 strikeouts and a .72 ERA.

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