Los Banos High’s baseball team showed what it’s capable of in Wednesday’s 7-3 victory over Hilmar, with a stingy defense and good production offensively.
While starting pitcher Cristian Garnica racked up nine strikeouts in five innings of work, the Tiger offense rolled in a couple of big innings after a slow start.
“It’s just about doing the little things, keeping the mistakes to a minimum and putting the ball in play,” first-year Los Banos coach Pat Fuentes said. “We’ve got high goals. There’s no way this team doesn’t see the postseason. We don’t have fourth-place talent out here, we have playoff talent. It’s all about how hard they work, and believe.
“What they put in, they’re going to get out.”
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Hilmar got on the board first with a Breck Smith leadoff double and a Los Banos error resulting in a run in the top of the fourth. LB got it back in the bottom of the frame after Tyler Slayday walked, stole second, advanced on a groundout, then scored on an Alec Barcellos infield single that hit the pitcher’s mitt, then bounced off an umpire.
The Tigers put two on the board in the fifth on a Brevin Welch RBI single and a Garnica triple.
“After our performance on Saturday, nine strikeouts (against Atwater), it was nice to see people put the ball in play, hit the ball around and put some runs on the board,” Welch said.
Los Banos poured it on with four runs in the sixth, with two of them coming in on a hit batsman (Welch) and a walk (Slayday) with the bases loaded. Hilmar threatened in the top of the seventh, scoring two on a sacrifice fly and a passed ball.
With the bases loaded, Hilmar batter Beau Balswick represented the tying run.
“You come out and throw balls, that’s what’s going to happen,” Fuentes said. “They’re going to get runners on and be one hit away.”
But starting Los Banos catcher Slayday, who had moved to first base late in the game, and his backup, sophomore Tyler Wilson, ended the threat. Wilson threw to Slayday to catch Smith away from first base on a passed-ball situation where the ball ricocheted back to Wilson off a concrete lip.
“It was a passed ball, I’ve got to call where it is,” Slayday said. “He was off first, so I just … yeah, you’ve just got to know what you’re doing.”
The heads-up play by a substitute player in late-inning relief impressed Fuentes.
“He’s a good kid, he’s going to be a heck of a catcher for me, just right now he’s stuck behind that senior,” Fuentes said. “We’re going to get him in when we can. He’s a ball player and he’s going to be ready when we put him in.”
Los Banos was blanked in its opener to Merced. The Tigers accounted for no hits in their 9-0 loss, while allowing 15 hits and committing five errors. ...
Pacheco opened with a 4-0 victory over Turlock on March 3, then went 1-1 on the first day of the Ceres Tournament, with an 8-0 win over Johansen and a 6-4 loss to Orestimba.