Woodlake Tigers scratch out the Panthers

Woodlake’s Guillermo Rosales pitches at home against Corcoran.(Kason Clark)

Woodlake baseball holds on for a 6-5 home win over Corcoran; Tigers improve to 3-1 in league play and 14-7 overall this spring

WOODLAKE – Over the past six seasons, the Corcoran Panthers have gotten the better of Woodlake baseball. In their last ten meetings in the series, the Panthers have accumulated a 9-1 record against the Woodlake Tigers. So as they hosted Corcoran at home this past Wednesday, the Tigers were looking for a little revenge.

And the Tigers pounced on that opportunity as they raced out to a 6-1 lead to start the night. The Panthers tried to claw their way back, but the Tigers held them off for the 6-5 win on April 24. After letting Corcoran get the better of them over the years, Elias Lang and his teammates were happy to get this win over their league rival.

“It feels really good. I’m glad we’re starting to produce a lot of wins as a program,” Lang said. “It’s feeling really good to stay on top of things and we’ll just keep it going one game at a time.”

As they held off the Panthers, the Tigers avoided a two-game losing streak after losing to Strathmore, 5-4, in their previous outing for their first league loss of the season. So with this win over Corcoran, the Tigers improved to 3-1 in the East Sequoia-Sequoia League and kept their hopes for a title alive.

“This was a good win for us,” Woodlake head coach Juan Gamez said. “We needed this one, especially to stay in the hunt for a league title so it was kind of a must win for us today and the kids came through.”

Overall, the Tigers improved their record to 14-7 this season and have been hot lately going 8-1 in their last nine games. As the Tigers have excelled on the diamond this spring, Gamez believes every single player on the roster is doing his part.

“As a team, we’re playing very well and everyone’s pretty much accepted a role on the team and that’s what’s helped us out this year,” Gamez said. “It’s been more of a team effort for us this year.”

In the bottom of the first inning against Corcoran, several Tigers played their role in giving their team the lead. After two runners got on base thanks to Corcoran errors, Conner Bates doubled to center field to clear the bases for a 2-0 lead. Lang followed that up with an RBI (runs batted in) double to right to make it a 3-0 lead for the Tigers. As their bats got going early, Lang credited it to their energy and preparation.

(Kason Clark)

“It’s just a lot of work we take in our cage time. We take a lot of time hitting,” Lang said. “We just try to get on that first pitch that comes our way if it’s a good ball and then it’s just a train that we just keep moving.”

Lang made it a 4-0 game when he scored on a passed ball. Later in the second inning, the Tigers extended the lead to 5-0 when Beck Holzm scored on a sacrifice fly from Landon Gamez. Corcoran finally scored in the third inning, but the Tigers responded in the bottom of the fourth when Ismael Pena scored on an error to make it a 6-1 lead for Woodlake.

But like they have done over the years, the Panthers remained a nuisance for the Tigers. In the top of the fifth, Elijah Muthana doubled to right to drive in a pair of runs to cut the deficit to 6-3. Muthana then stole home plate to cut Woodlake’s lead to 6-4.

Later in the top of the seventh, Corcoran’s Ethan Chavez made it a one-run game with an RBI single to left field. But relief pitcher Landon Gamez recorded the final three outs to close out the win for the Tigers. While it was shaky at times, the Woodlake defense came through when it mattered the most.

“I would say our defense is pretty top tier,” Lang said. “So far our defense has really been coming in clutch for us so I think it’s just really about staying calm and making the next play.”

Now with a 3-1 league record, the Tigers remain in contention for a league title. But if the Tigers are going to bring home that league title, Juan Gamez believes his team must play consistently throughout entire games going forward.

“We really haven’t had a complete game yet where it’s solid all around for all seven innings,” Gamez said. “We know we can play at a high level, it’s just we’re not consistent with it and that’s what we’re looking for is to be consistent throughout the whole game.”

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