The Los Banos High Tigers have used their spring break to take part in the 48th Windemuth Classic. Not in their plans this week were unearned runs leading to a loss.
Los Banos was beaten 2-0 by St. Mary’s of Berkeley (11-5) on Wednesday for only its second loss. An emphatic two-out two-run double to right-center by the Panthers’ Spencer Helvig, after a walk and an infield error in the fifth, cost the Tigers (15-2).
Pat Fuentes, the Tigers’ coach, didn’t mind the loss as much as he wondered about his team’s intensity level. Simply, he didn’t think his team brought their best effort.
“It starts with energy. It starts with mindset. It starts with mentality. We’re just going in the wrong direction,” Fuentes said. “No excuses, but it’s a little bit different routine when we’re not in school. We’re just living and playing baseball.”
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Los Banos won its first 14 before a Western Athletic Conference loss last week against Patterson. A 5-0 Windemuth win on Monday over Grace Davis vaulted the Tigers into a competitive matchup against St. Mary’s, the school which produced Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien.
Kody Cardoza, Los Banos’ promising sophomore, and St. Mary’s Aidan Williams matched zeroes during this mid-day game at Grace Davis. Cardoza shook off two first-inning balks (his first of the season) and escaped early trouble.
15-2 Los Banos’ season record
In the fifth, Los Banos centerfielder Julian Arrechavala kept the game scoreless with a diving catch of Gianni Bloom’s looper. But Helvig, the next batter, guessed right on a fastball and chased home the decisive runs.
“I had everything today,” Cardoza said. “The first couple of innings I didn’t, but as the game went on, I did.”
Meanwhile, the Tigers could not solve the off-speed pitches of Williams, a long reliever thrust into a starter’s role. He scattered six hits, benefited from two early-game double plays and blanked the Tigers for six innings. Los Banos’ best chance came in the fifth, but Panther shortstop Ryan Jenkins leaped to snare Trent Mallonee’s line drive with two on.
Lefty Nick Vamis, St. Mary’s No. 2 starter, retired Los Banos on 10 pitches in the seventh.
“I felt whoever scored first would win,” said St. Mary’s coach Scott Tully, an SM grad who served as pitching coach last season at Cal State Monterey Bay. “We gambled with Aidan, but we had a chance to win against a good team. When he’s keeping teams off-balance with his curve, he’s good.”
Though Williams won the dual, Cardoza showed why Los Banos won’t stay down for long.
“He’s been doing that since last year,” Fuentes said. “He’s going to be the real deal.”