Rangers blank El Diamante while Mt. Whitney and Golden West lose in quarterfinals, Woodlake softball carries its top D-V seed into semifinal round
VISALIA – The door swung open a little wider last week for the Redwood High baseball team in its quest for a Division I baseball championship.
The No. 3 seed Rangers (24-5) racked up 16 hits – including four home runs – and ace pitcher Joey Volchko fired a 1-hitter in a 14-1 trouncing of San Luis Obispo on May 16. Two days later, Redwood got a 1-hit, 11 strikeout mound performance from Reece Bueno in a 3-0 quarterfinal shutout of Visalia rival El Diamante (which finished at 21-9).
Further helping the Rangers’ cause was No. 9 seed Centennial’s 6-2 upset of top seed Bullard on May 19. If Redwood defeated the Golden Hawks in the May 23 semifinals (results were unavailable at press time), would play in the section championship game Saturday, May 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Visalia’s Valley Strong Ballpark (Rawhide Stadium).
Meanwhile, Woodlake High’s baseball team won twice to also advance to the Division V semifinals. The No. 6 seed Tigers (18-8) defeated Riverdale and No. 3 Mendota, and if they knocked off No. 2 Kern Valley on May 23 they would play at noon Saturday, May 27, in Visalia.
Other region baseball teams had their seasons end last week with playoff losses. The Exeter High Monarchs (13-13) dropped a 5-2 decision in Fresno to No. 4 seed Hoover on May 17 in the Division IV playoffs, Mt. Whitney (13-16) went 1-1 and fell in the Division III quarterfinals while Golden West (14-16) split their two games including a loss at Immanuel High to end its postseason run in Division IV.
Redwood High backed up its offensive onslaught against San Luis Obispo with a seven-hit attack against NO. 12 seed El Diamante, including a home run and two hits from Erik Rico. Volchko, Bueno, Joey Rico and Bo Rico went deep in the first win.
Junior Nick Reynoso had the Miners’ lone hit, and senior Matthew Bettencourt took the pitching loss. On May 17, El Diamante knocked off fifth-seeded Clovis (17-12-1) 8-5, as Reynoso, Caleb Silva and Daniel Coronado all drove in two runs.
Exeter finished with just three hits against Hoover, including an RBI double and run scored by senior Zack Williams. Senior Carson Hughes also doubled while senior Miller Weldon had the Monarchs’ other RBI. Junior Aiden Robertson took the pitching loss.
SOFTBALL: Tigers collect two home wins to advance in D-5
Division V top seed Woodlake (23-3) blanked Fresno High 9-0 nin its playoff opener on May 16, then overcame a slow start in the quarterfinals to roll past Immanuel Christian, 12-3, on May 18. The Tigers were locked in a 2-2 tie when they erupted for six runs in the bottom of the third and cruised to victory behind sophomore pitcher Audrina Rodriguez.
Woodlake hosted No. 12 seed Dos Palos (12-8) in a May 23 semifinal, and with a victory would head up to Fresno to play the winner of No. 3 Washington Union and No. 2 Boron in the finals at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 27. All championship games are being played over the course of two days at Margie Wright Diamond.
Redwood High’s hopes for a Division II postseason run were dashed early following a 7-3 home loss to Edison High on May 16. The teams battled to a 3-3 deadlock in regulation innings before the visitors struck for four runs in the top of the 10th. Redwood finished with 10 hits, led by freshman Kenzi Cantu who went 3-for-4. Senior Morgan Bradford went 1-for-3 with a home run and 2 RBI while sophomore Alexis Rico added two hits.