Cavaliers conquer the Monarchs in playoff battle

Exeter’s Tanner Garnett pitches against Central Valley Christian in a road playoff game.(Kason Clark)

Central Valley Christian baseball rolls to an 11-3 win against Exeter in the D-III Central Section Championships; Cavaliers advance to semifinals to compete in the section title game

VISALIA – During the regular season, Central Valley Christian baseball got the better of the Exeter Monarchs with wins in both their meetings this spring. And when the two teams met up again in the Division III Central Section Championships this past Thursday, the No. 3 seed Cavaliers continued to have the No. 11 seed Monarchs’ number.

In the bottom of the first inning, the Cavaliers took control early with a couple home runs for a 4-0 lead. The Monarchs tried to keep pace, but the Cavalier bats remained hot as they went on to win 11-3. As the Cavaliers punched their tickets to the Central Section semifinals, CVC head coach Shane Marshall was impressed with how they played from start to finish against a sturdy Exeter squad. 

“To be able to come out, just swing it the way we did, grab control and momentum and keep control the whole way through, I couldn’t be prouder of the team,” Marshall said. “When you’re down to eight teams left in the tournament, everyone that you’re playing against is quality.”

The Cavaliers improved to 20-10 and have now won their second straight game to start the postseason after surviving a 7-6 win over No. 14 seed Mt. Whitney in the first round. As the Cavaliers have started the postseason hot, CVC senior Case Anker believes the team bond is leading the way.

“It’s something really special. I think this is a group where, if we’re going to do something, this is the group,” Anker said. “The team camaraderie is better this year than others, our guys come out and compete.”

Looking to be a good teammate, Anker made an impact early on against the Monarchs. In the bottom of the first with two runners on, Anker crushed a home run to left field for the early 3-0 lead and momentum. His teammate Zach Simmon followed that up with a solo shot to left to push the lead to 4-0.

Over the next couple innings, the two teams exchanged scores. In the second, the Monarchs responded when Tanner Garnett scored on a CVC error. In the bottom of the inning, Teague Brandenburg scored on a sacrifice fly from Bryce Crook to push CVC’s lead back out to 5-1.

Looking to keep pace, the Monarchs found a spark in the fourth. Owen Robertson made it a 5-2 game when he scored on a CVC error. Tyler Trimble then singled to right to drive in a run to cut the deficit to 5-3. But that would be all the Exeter offense could muster as CVC starting pitcher Crook and his defense held the Monarchs at bay the rest of the night.

“Crook had a great day up there making the pitches that needed to be made,” Marshall said about the CVC defense. “He was mixing and matching speeds which makes it easy for the guys to get behind him when he’s commanding the zone effectively like that.”

“I can’t say enough about their pitching staff. They shut us down,” Exeter head coach Kevin Kirkman said about the CVC defense.

The CVC offense then got rolling again in the bottom of the fourth. Brandenburg got things started when he drove in another run for the Cavaliers. Caden Ritchie followed that up with an RBI double to center to make it 7-3 lead. He then scored thanks to a sacrifice fly from his teammate Kelan Turner. Anker capped off the inning with an RBI single for his fourth RBI of the night and to push the lead 9-3. 

“We knew that if we were going to win, we needed to score runs,” Anker said about the offensive production. “We saw that they were throwing one of their lower guys and we just jumped on him right away.”

Later in the fifth, Brandenburg recorded another RBI single to push the lead to 10-3. A few moments later, Brody Pimentel scored on a fielder’s choice to make the final score 11-3 as the Monarchs could not respond.

With the loss, the Monarchs ended their season with an overall record of 21-9. They opened the playoffs with an 8-4 road win over No. 6 seed Tehachapi, but their run came to an end against CVC. Despite the tough loss to end the year, Kirkman believes the Monarchs competed well this spring.

“I’m really proud of these guys,” Kirkman said. “We went 21-9 and I don’t think anybody thought that we would. We came up short by half a game to win league and we just ran into a really good team in CVC.”

With their win, the Cavaliers advanced to the semifinals. Now just needing just one more win to advance to the Central Valley title game, Marshall believes the Cavaliers need to just maintain the same mindset that has carried them this far.

“We have to just keep doing what we’re doing. Understand the process that’s gotten us here and not focusing on the results,” Marshall said. “Just commit to the process, doing the same thing that we’ve done all year and the results will come as a result of that process.”

Elsewhere in the Central Valley, playoff baseball continued this past Thursday, May 16. In the same tournament as CVC, No. 16 seed El Diamante saw its run come to an end with a 5-4 loss against No. 8 seed Edison. In the Division IV Central Section Championships, No. 3 seed Mission Oak took care of business with a 14-1 win over No. 11 seed Golden West and No. 12 seed Monache advanced with a 7-6 win over No. 13 seed Dinuba. No. 1 seed Woodlake advanced to the semifinals of the Division VI Central Section Championships with a 6-1 win over No. 8 seed Orange Cove. 

Start typing and press Enter to search