Baseball: Long ball leads to Monarchs’ win over Emperors
Sal Briones’ second career home run helps Exeter hold off charging Dinuba
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
EXETER – It seemed the Monarchs were going to find a way to lose their fourth straight game. Their six-run lead over the Emperors had been reduced to just two entering the bottom of the sixth inning. That was when Sal Briones hit a three-run home run over the wall in right field sealing the win 10-5.
“He just gave me the right pitch and I was able to take it and the rest is history now,” Briones said. “This is a great win.”
In recent games the left-handed junior has been an offensive power for the Monarchs (19-10, 8-7). Briones has batted over .500 three times in the last five games. Of those he has hit perfect batting averages twice. He has accounted for 15 total runs. Nine being RBIs off his seven total hits and has scored six more runs himself. Five of his hits have been for extra bases.
“Every game Sal is getting better and better,” Exeter head coach Kevin Kirkman said. “He has a great swing if he just focuses on the pitch he can hit he’ll do it.”
Exeter went through their entire lineup in the bottom of the first inning as their bats produced one hit after another. A single by Dillon Howell tied the game at 1-1 by scoring Anthony Torres. A couple batters later Caison Wallen brought in two more with a double to right-center field. That made the score 4-1.
Dinuba (17-11, 8-7) did not help their case by extending the inning with a throwing error. Maddox Le hit a hard ground ball to Dinuba’s third baseman. Unable to field it cleanly he rushed his throw which sailed wide of first. Both Briones and Wallen scored on the error making it 6-1.
On another ground ball Exeter brought in their final run of the inning. It was a routine ground out hit by Garrett Ward to the Dinuba short stop. With the Emperors so preoccupied with the easy out they forgot to hold Le at third. Once the throw toward first was made he easily made it 7-1.
“We were able to come out and jump on them early which is something we haven’t done in a few games,” Kirkman said. “It felt pretty good to do that.”
While it seemed, the Monarchs were going to coast to their win their big lead did not last. The production of the two teams through the next five and a half innings could not have been different. Dinuba scored in four of the next five innings. On the other hand, Exeter was held scoreless until Briones long ball.
“We kind of slacked there in the middle, but we were able to finish strong,” Briones said.
Not only did Briones second career homer end the Monarchs three game losing streak it helped with their playoff seeding as well. As a result, Exeter received a first round bye as the No. 2-seeded team in the Division IV playoffs. They will begin the postseason at home on Thursday against the winner of the No. 7-seeded Chowchilla Tribe (14-12, 9-6), and the tenth seeded Mira Monte Lions (9-5, 6-6).