PREP BASEBALL: Big inning strikes out CVC title hopes

Central Valley Christian’s Brody Pimental (5) slides into second base with a run-scoring double as Kingsburg High’s Eric Garcia prepares to attempt a tag during the second inning of the Cavaliers’ 17-1 loss to the Vikings in a Division III semifinal baseball playoff on May 21. No. 2 seed Kingsburg (24-7) scored multiple runs in four of six innings to end the third-seeded Cavaliers’ 20-11 season.(Jon Earnest)

Kingsburg erupts for 8 runs in second to fuel 17-1 semifinal rout that knock Central Valley Christian Cavaliers from Division III playoffs

KINGSBURG – One disastrous inning delivered a knockout punch to Central Valley Christian’s dream of berth in the Central Section Division III baseball championship game.

On May 21, the No. 2 seed and reigning D-III champion Kingsburg High Vikings brushed off an early 1-0 deficit with an eight-run eruption in the second inning Tuesday afternoon, dominating the rest of the way by scoring multiple runs in four of six innings at the plate in cruising to a 17-1 victory over the Cavaliers at Kingsburg High varsity diamond.

The Vikings (24-7) earned a second consecutive trip to Visalia’s Valley Strong Ballpark, this time for a 7 p.m. contest against No. 5 seed Fowler (26-5) on Thursday, May 23. The Northwest Sequoia League West Division champion Redcats edged No. 8 Edison by a 7-6 score in their semifinal.

The lopsided decision also ended a successful 20-11 season for CVC, which rebounded from a fourth place finish in Tri-County Conference Kings Canyon Division play to collect a pair of postseason victories. Prior to TCC play, the Cavaliers captured the championship of the Fowler Easter Classic.

“Experience triumphs most of the time, and despite our senior (players) we’re still a relatively young team,” head coach Shane Marshall said. “To achieve what we achieved this season was special.”

Veteran Kingsburg High coach Jim Cranford said his team’s playoff experience and time together makes for a formidable combination.

“This is a pretty mature group, and (when) they smell blood in the water they get after it,” he said. “They’ve been together since they were 10-year-olds. We’ve got a couple of young guys in the lineup, but they don’t act like young guys.”

The Cavaliers gave their fans early hope for a possible road upset when Brody Pimental’s run-scoring double in the second inning gave them a 1-0 lead. But a patient, disciplined Kingsburg offense combined with misadventures in the field from the afternoon sun set the stage for a big Viking counterpunch.

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Central Valley Christian head coach Shane Marshall speaks to his team after a season-ending 17-1 loss at Kingsburg High in a Central Section Division III semifinal game on May 21. The Cavaliers finished the season with a 20-11 record, which included a Fowler Easter Classic tournament title and two postseason victories. (Jon Earnest)

A single, hit by pitch and walk loaded the bases with no outs, and Gavin Ekizian beat out an infield single to tie the score. One out later, Eric Garcia delivered a two-run single and Houston Hirschkorn followed with towering pop to center that dropped in to reload the bases. Vikings starting pitcher Holden Hirschkorn — one of three Hirschkorns to lead off the lineup — then ripped a two-run single to center for a 5-1 lead.

The final Hirschkorn, sophomore Jensen Hirschkorn, walked to load the bases that ended the pitching afternoon for CVC starter Zach Simmon. Bodhi Verners followed with a two-run single off reliever Landon Holloway, and Gunnar Geringer capped off the outburst with a sacrifice fly.

Kingsburg never let up offensively against three CVC pitchers, finishing with 12 hits and adding two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth and four more in the sixth. Jensen Hirschkorn had two hits and four runs batted in while scoring three times, Holden Hirschkorn and Geringer each drove in three runs while Garcia and Verners each had two runs batted in.

“We teach the game and let the kids play,” said Cranford, who honed his coaching skills under mentors Bert Holt, Bob Bennett and Pete Beiden. “We don’t micromanage, our catchers call pitches. We (coaches) don’t know what kind of curveball that guys got that day.”

Caden Ritchie doubled and singled while Dom Alvarado had a pair of singles for CVC.

“We haven’t won a playoff game in a (few) years, 2017 was the last time we won a playoff game,” Marshall said “We moved up to Division three and we won some games and competed, and that’s all you can ask for us to continue to move forward.”

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