Panthers keep streak alive against Monache

Porterville’s Jose Perez bats at home against Monache (Kason Clark)

Porterville baseball holds off crosstown rival Monache for a 5-3 victory, Panthers have now win nine straight games to improve to 13-5 this spring

PORTERVILLE – After defeating crosstown rival Monache, 11-0, earlier in the week, Porterville baseball looked to do it again this past Friday night. In their second meeting of the week, the Panthers overcame a slow start to take a 5-0 lead over the Marauders. Now on their home field, it looked like the Panthers would dominate the Marauders once again.

Instead, the Marauders responded to claw their way back into the contest. They were able to wake up their offense as they cut the deficit to 5-3 late in the contest. But the Marauders’ comeback attempt fell short as Porterville held on for the 5-3 win on April 19.

The Panthers are now 13-5 this season with a 7-2 mark in the East Yosemite League. Along with beating Monache in the second straight game, the Panthers extended their winning streak to nine straight games. As the Panthers have found their stride of late, Porterville’s Aiden Jimenez believes their experience with one another is paying off.

“We all played together when we were younger so I feel like it’s finally kicking in,” Jimenez said. “It’s the chemistry, the way we play baseball and we love each other like family.”

It took several innings for either team to get their bats going. In the bottom of the fourth, the Panthers finally broke through with an RBI single from Jacoby Roman to take a 1-0 lead. The Panthers then took control of the game in the bottom of the fifth.

Early in the inning, the Panthers threatened as they loaded the bases with no outs. The inning started with a walk and then an error, so Monache head coach Jacob Williams believes those mistakes opened the door for the Panthers.

“Walks are killer so we have to make sure we always attack the strike zone,” Williams said. “And we have to make sure to make the routine plays.”

The Panthers made Monache pay for those mistakes with a single from Louie Torres that drove in a run. On the same play, a Monache error allowed Xavier Aguilera to score to push the lead to 3-0. Looking to keep the momentum going, Jimenez singled to center field to drive in a run for a 4-0 lead. After their slow start to the game, the Porterville bats had finally found their rhythm.

“For the past couple games, we’ve been like this. We’ve been dormant for two to three innings, but we finally kicked it in,” Jimenez said. “We’ll see a pitcher for the first time and we’re shocked but then when we see them again, we already know his stuff, we know what he has and we get him.”

Later in the fifth, Torres added onto the lead as he stole home plate. Now with a 5-0 lead, the Panthers looked to put the game away for good. But Monache had other plans. In the top of the sixth, Lewis Green singled to right to drive in a run and get the Marauders on the board. Xavier Mendoza then scored on a Porterville error to make it a 5-2 game.

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Monache’s Lewis Green fields the ball against Porterville. (Kason Clark)

In the top of the seventh, the Marauders continued to put the pressure on the Panthers. After he got on base thanks to a walk, Ty Baxter scored on a passed ball to make it a 5-3 game. Jayson Castillo followed that up with a single to get on base and keep the game alive for Monache.

However, the Panthers forced the Marauders into a double play to end the game. Monache has now lost three straight games to fall to 11-10-1 this season and 2-7 in the East Yosemite League. As the Marauders look to right the ship, they will need to fix their defensive mistakes and adjust their approach at the plate.

“We want them to understand when we have two strikes, we have to adjust the approach and change it,” Williams said. “We have to shift our mindset to let’s get stuff in play. Let’s try to keep the line moving, get it in play and let other people behind us do their job.”

While the Panthers have won nine straight games and are on a roll, Porterville head coach Pete Carganilla believes the Panthers did not play as well as they should have against Monache and have much work ahead of them.

“We did a couple things in the right time to edge that one out of there, but we have to clean up some things,” Carganilla said.

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