Hawks hold off the Tribe

Mission Oak’s Luke Vieira hits the ball against Tulare Union.(Kason Clark)

Mission Oak baseball survives in a 6-5 victory over Tulare Union; Hawks snap a two-game losing streak to improve to 1-2 in the West Yosemite League

TULARE – In a battle between a pair of 0-2 West Yosemite League teams, both Tulare Union and Mission Oak baseball were in desperate need of a win. Looking to avoid an 0-3 start to league play, the Mission Oak Hawks came through at home this past Thursday night. 

After falling behind 3-0 to start the contest, the Hawks came back to defeat the Tribe, 6-5, on March 21. As his team overcame a slow start to get their first league win of the year, Mission Oak head coach Kevin Break liked how the Hawks’ bats came through.

“We’ve lost two in a row so tonight’s win was great for us and it got us back on track,” Break said. “We need to work on pitching. We are struggling right now throwing strikes and walks are killing us, so we need to do better at that but we’ll take the win.”

The Hawks now stand at 1-2 early in league play and have improved to 5-6 this spring. After a rough start to league play, Braylen Vera and his teammates knew how much they needed this victory.

“This meant a lot to us,” Vera said. “It boosted our morale quite a bit and I think we were really needing this win. We got it and I think it’s going to work in our favor later on.”

Things looked dire early on for the Hawks. In the first inning, a passed ball allowed a Tulare Union runner to score and take the lead. Then in the second inning, another couple of passed balls allowed another pair of runners to score to stretch the Tribe’s lead to 3-0.

But the Hawks responded in the bottom of the second. After loading the bases, Vera drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to get the Hawks on the scoreboard. Benjamin Romans then knocked in a run with an RBI single to left field.

(Kason Clark)

Gage Hastin capped off the inning with a double to left to drive in another pair of runs to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead. As the Hawks got their bats going, all their hard work in practice had begun to pay off.

“Every day we work in those cages and work on field situations,” Vera said. “We just work on putting the ball in play, try not to do anything crazy and it works in our favor.”

The Hawks looked to add onto their lead in the third inning. After Vera put the ball in play, a Tulare Union error allowed a runner to score another run. A passed ball then allowed another Hawk to score to push the lead to 6-3. 

After losing their lead, the Tribe tried to retake momentum. In the fifth, Jeremiah Flores drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to make it a 6-4 game. In the top of the seventh looking to extend the game, Adam Sims doubled to center field to drive in a run to cut the deficit to 6-5.

Needing at least another run to stay alive, the Tribe loaded the bases. But the Hawks recorded the final out to hand the Tribe their third straight loss to fall to 0-3 in league play and 3-7 overall. Tulare Union head coach Kevin Brown believes health has plagued the Tribe early on in league play, but he also knows they need to clean up their mistakes if they want to compete in the rest of their league games.

“We just have to tighten up on the little things. We’re making little mistakes here and there. Some are more evident than others with some physical errors but others are just base-running mistakes,” Brown said. “We have what we need to be a successful team but we just have to put it together and eliminate some of the mistakes.”

Next up for the Hawks will be a non-league tournament and then a return to league play right after. As the Hawks move forward, they hope this win over their cross-town rival will provide them a spark.

“This is a game builder right here,” Break said. “We’ll take this into next week where we have the Pro-PT tournament so this is good momentum for us. And then we go back into league so this is a great win for us.”

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