East ends four year losing streak
By Patrick Dillon
visalia – For the first time since 2012 the East team can call themselves winners of the Exeter Lions Club East/West All Star Game. On Wednesday, June 7 the East defeated the West 4-2 at Recreation Park. In the end the play by Tulare Western’s Wyatt Gilbert both on the mound and at the plate that got the East the win. As well as got Gilbert the Most Valuable Player of the game award. The trend of low scoring games continued for the second year in a row following up 2015’s five run total.
“It was a pretty good team effort today. We knew we were underdogs,” said Exeter’s Alex Lagrutta. “It was a nice way to end high school.”
The East got the bats swinging early in the bottom of the first when Gilbert from Tulare Western led off with a triple to left center field. The very next batter up was Gilbert’s teammate Blaze Hickey drove him in when Hicks grounded out to Golden West’s Zac Legrretta at second.
That was only the first of two runs that Gilbert scored in the game as he finished with a triple and double. Along with that Gilbert threw three scoreless innings.
Then in the bottom of the fifth the East built on their lead. Lagrutta led off with a single to shallow right. Next up was Porterville’s Isaiah Gomez, who tripled to center when the ball bounced over the West’s team’s glove. That scored Lagrutta all the way from first to make it 2-0.
Later in the inning after Strathmore’s Brandon Delk struck out. Then Porterville’s Jake Hernandez flew out to left for the second out of the inning. However, the fly out allowed scored Gomez from third to make it 3-0. That run ended up being the game winner that ended the streak.
With the shutout still going one inning later the East team added an insurance run off the bat of Lindsay’s Jesus Espinoza. After Granite Hill’s Derek Steidley drew a walk Gilbert came back into the game and pitched ran for Steidley. After a flyout to left Espinoza stepped up to bat and got his only hit of the game, a double to right field. That drove in Gilbert to make it 4-0.
“I knew I had to make the most of every at bat,” said Espinoza. “I’m glad I was able to come in clutch and get that run in.”
The West team finally ended the shutout in the top of the seventh inning. After their team led off with a triple a sacrifice fly ball brought him in to score. Then two batters later Hanford’s Jason McBride drove in fellow West Yosemite League competitor Legarretta to make it 4-2.
By then however, the damage had already been done and the West’s defense was too strong behind their pitching to allow any more runs to come across.
In fact the winning margin might have been larger than just two runs. In the bottom of the second Lindsay’s Robert Gomez tried to stretch a single into a double and got thrown out. Then in the bottom of the sixth Exeter’s Brandon Ayres tried to stretch a double into a triple and got thrown out.
One of the many pitchers that the East team used during the game was Exeter’s Seth Guinn. Recently named co-Most Valuable Pitcher of the Central Sequoia League Guinn only pitched the sixth inning. While Guinn’s go to pitch, the curve ball wasn’t working he still used the defense behind him to get the outs.
“You just had to go pitch by pitch and hopefully get the win,” said Guinn.
First a fly out to center field. Next a fly out to Lagrutta in right. Then Ayres got the last out when he caught Hanford West’s Rex Ryan trying to steal third.