Riding the state’s second-longest current winning streak, College of the Sequoias’ baseball team has taken control of the Central Valley Conference championship race
VISALIA – The Giants (13-3 overall, 13-3 CVC) won four games last week to push their winning streak to six and extend their lead on second-place Fresno City (10-6, 8-5) to 3.5 games with eight to play in the conference. During a season delayed and shortened by Covid-19 pandemic safety precautions, Sequoias is tied for the second-most wins among the 52 California community college baseball teams that opted to play. The Giants also are tied for the third-best winning percentage (.813) among teams that have played at least 10 games so far. There will be no state championship tournament this year.
Sequoias scored 10 or more runs for the seventh time in its past eight games while sweeping a doubleheader against Merced (7-9, 5-8) on May 7 in Visalia. The Giants won the first game 11-9 behind home runs from Andrew Valdez (El Diamante) and Donte Valdez (Redwood). Andrew Valdez hit a three-run shot in the fourth inning that put his team ahead 6-4. Donte Valdez hit a solo blast in the eighth inning to cap the scoring. Sequoias trailed by three heading to the bottom of the seventh inning when Davis Beavers (Redwood) put down a run-scoring sacrifice bunt, Michael McKernan (Mt. Whitney) hit a game-tying two-run double and Payton Allen (Golden West) hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly for a 10-9 lead. James Freisen (Immanuel-Reedley) pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning to notch his state-leading sixth save of the season.
In the second game against Merced, the Giants overcame a six-run deficit to win 14-9. McKernan tied the score at 7-7 with a two-run double in the fifth inning, and Nate Gilson (El Diamante) gave Sequoias a lead it would not relinquish at 10-7 with a three-run double in the sixth. McKernan and Allen had consecutive RBI singles in a fourth-run eighth that helped the Giants pull away. Andrew Valdez had a two-run homer for Sequoias in the fourth. He has five home runs on the season, tied for the second-best total in the state. Relievers Austin Fleck (Central-Fresno), Riley Creech (El Diamante) and Anthony Torres (Exeter) combined to hold the Blue Devils without an earned run over the final 6¹⁄3 innings. Fleck (1-0) was credited with the win after pitching 2¹⁄3 perfect innings. Sequoias pushed Reedley (11-7, 8-6) from two games back to four in the conference title chase with a 12-9 road win May 4 and a 6-4 triumph over the Tigers on May 5 in Visalia.
In the first game, Benjamin Pedersen (Tulare Union) and Allen each had four hits to power a 19-hit Giants’ attack. Flavio Perez Jr. (Hanford) broke open a one-run game in the fifth with a two-run home run, and Donte Valdez’ two-run shot highlighted a four-run sixth that saw Sequoias extend its lead to 10-3. Pedersen had a run-scoring double in the seventh and Allen scored on a wild pitch in the eighth after registering his fourth hit to cap the scoring for the Giants. In the second game, the Giants went ahead in the bottom of the seventh when Perez delivered a bases-loaded single to score Allen and Andrew Valdez, then Pedersen came around to score on an error for a 6-4 lead. Sequoias trailed 3-0 through five innings, but tied the score in the sixth as Pedersen hit a run-scoring triple and Perez and Vincent Estrada (Corcoran) followed with RBI doubles. The Giants a non-conference doubleheader against Cerro Coso (9-7) on May 11, with games scheduled to start at 1 and 4 p.m. in Ridgecrest. Sequoias resumes CVC play May 14 with a home doubleheader against Fresno City. Games are set for noon and 3 p.m.