Cardinals grounded in the Central Valley championship

(Kason Clark)

Lindsay baseball falls 1-0 to Chavez in the Division VI Central Section Championship game at Valley Strong Ballpark; the Cardinals finish their season with an overall record of 19-11

VISALIA – As the postseason marches along, the games often get tighter and tighter as the best remaining teams look to win it all. And that was the case in the Division VI Central Section Championship game this past Saturday, as No. 5 seed Lindsay baseball found itself in a low-scoring dog fight with No. 2 seed Cesar E. Chavez High School.

At Valley Strong Ballpark on May 25, both teams used hot pitching and strong defense to make it a scoreless tie to start the contest. But Chavez eventually broke through with a sacrifice fly for the only run of the day, holding off the Lindsay Cardinals for the 1-0 victory and the Central Valley title.

“We had a pretty good feeling it was probably going to be that type of ball game as both teams have good pitching staffs,” Lindsay head coach Brett Kendig said. “We had our opportunities. We had runners on third base at least three times today but we just couldn’t get them in.”

The loss ended the Cardinals’ season and their run through the Central Section playoffs. They opened the postseason with home wins over No. 12 seed Riverdale and No. 13 seed Rosamond. The Cardinals then defeated No. 1 seed Woodlake on the road to advance to the championship game.

But the Cardinals could not keep it going in the championship game as they found themselves in a pitcher’s duel with Chavez. Through the first three innings, Chavez’s Jacob Sixtos and Lindsay’s John Mosqueda excelled on the mound as neither teams’ bats could string along hits.

But after pitching a complete game against Woodlake earlier in the week, Mosqueda was pulled from the contest after three innings. While his star pitcher couldn’t finish the game, Kendig applauded Mosqueda for his effort in the championship.

“He’s a competitor. His arm wasn’t feeling the greatest today but he got in there and battled,” Kendig said. “He put three zeros on the board and that was exactly what we needed.”

With Mosqueda now out of the game, the Titans looked to take advantage in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a walk to open the inning, Julian Villarreal worked his way to third base to put himself in scoring position. He then scored on a sacrifice fly from Miguel Ramirez to give the Titans a 1-0 lead.

After falling behind, the Cardinals tried to get their own offense going as they got a pair of runners on in the sixth. But the Cardinals could not break through as Sixtos got the strikeout to end the inning, pushing his total to six strikeouts in the game.

“Their pitcher did a good job of keeping people off balance,” Kendig said about Sixtos. “We put the ball in play and they made some good defensive plays.”

The Cardinals still had their chances as they opened the seventh with a walk and a single to knock Sixtos out of the game. But after a popup, a Lindsay runner was caught stealing third base to whittle the Cardinals down to their final out. JJ Vasquez then struck out looking to end the game and clinch the section title for the Chavez Titans.

With their loss in the title game, the Cardinals finished the season with an overall record of 19-11. They had been playing well to close the season as they had won six straight and nine of their last ten heading into the title game. While they could not keep it up against Chavez, Kendig expressed pride at what the Cardinals accomplished throughout the regular season and the playoffs.

“Anytime you get to the finals, you have to think it was a pretty darn good season,” Kendig said. “We got hot, knocked off Woodlake there in the playoffs and we deserved to be here. It was just tough luck today.”

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