Baseball: Bullpups bite Pioneers with 3-run rally in seventh

VISALIA – Mt. Whitney controlled the game against Lemoore with a two-run lead heading into the last inning, but Hanford capitalized on a pitching change to drive in three runs in seventh inning to take a 4-3 win.

The Pioneers started the final inning with a pitching change as Jay Rubeledo was brought into the close out the game for starter JT Guerrero. Rubeledo gave up a center field hit to Handford’s Christaian Mendez and then hit batter Chris Clement putting the first two runners on base. Rubeledo then walked Justin Cerda and loaded the bases with the first three batters. Hanford’s Gabe Magallan then knocked an RBI single to deep left field allowing three runners to score, to pull ahead 4-3.

“Unbelievable,” Pioneers’ head coach Nick Yockey could be heard shouting from the Mt. Whitney dugout.

The difference actually came in the sixth inning when the Pioneers turned a double play, but not before Hanford scored its first run of the game. The Bullpups’ Zayvien Silvestre was walked to first and the Hanford coaching staff decided to call in Matt Raygoza to pinch run for him. Hanford’s Gabe Magallan sent a line drive into center field, moving Raygoza to third. With runners on the corners, Derek McNary hit an infield grounder and the Pioneers decided to tag him out at first. The fielder then threw to third in an attempt to catch Magallan but Raygoza was already headed home and scored. Mt. Whitney got out of the inning with a 3-1 lead headed into the seventh. 

Despite the loss, Pioneers’ players kept their composure and understood it was a hard fought game. “It was a great game and we showed we can battle,” Mt. Whitney’s Javier Altamirano said. 

The Pioneers played well through five innings. Mt. Whitney’s Zach Mell was first at bat and first to lay into his opponents, sending a ball straight through center field. After taking first base, Mell stole second base on a missed grab from Hanford’s catcher. All it took was another center field hit from Guerero to send Mell home and start the momentum of the game. 

In the third inning the Pioneers’ Mark Rocha found himself on third base after a sacrifice bunt from Mell and a powerful right field ball from Guerero. It was Handford’s catcher that aided Rocha in the second run of the game after a ball popped up behind the Bullpup player drawing him away from the plate. This distraction was the perfect opportunity for Rocha to literally slide in from third.

The Pioneers continued on gaining another run in the fourth inning, before a few mistakes cost them the game in the final two innings. 

The teams faced each other again on April 21 and Hanford again defeated Mt. Whitney 5-2. The Pioneers played El Diamante yesterday, April 26, but the game happened after press time. Mt. Whitney will host the Miners tomorrow, April 28.

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