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February 2, 2023

With Help from Salinas, San Benito Has Shot at Title

‘Balers rout Alvarez, Gilroy falls to Cowboys to create
three-way tie for first
Salinas – The best news the San Benito baseball team received Tuesday had nothing to do with anything that went on in its 12-1 win over host Alvarez.

While the win established a new school record for victories with 25, it was the 10-3 bashing that Salinas put on Gilroy that provided the highlight of the day for the Haybalers.

That Mustangs loss, along with the ‘Balers win, creates a three-way tie for first place between Gilroy, San Benito and Salinas. A win by the ‘Balers over North Salinas on Thursday would assure at least a share of the Tri-County Athletic League title.

Gilroy hosts Alisal and Salinas travels to Palma facing the same scenario.

“We talked about this the last three games about having sense of urgency,” San Benito coach Michael Luna said. “They’ve heard it enough times with me and they will understand the importance now that at the very least it’s for a tie for first.”

Palma, which sits two games back and out of title contention, beat Salinas 4-3 in its first showdown and Alisal stunned Gilroy 7-2 in their earlier matchup in Salinas.

“Palma beating Salinas on Thursday wouldn’t be that big of surprise and obviously Alisal beat Gilroy already,” Luna said.

To put itself in this position, San Benito (25-8, 8-3 TCAL) wasted little time in disposing Alvarez in five innings.

Justin Andrade led off a two-run first inning with a single. He stole second and scored on Kolton Klauer’s RBI single. Brian Haggett later singled, Kyle Zozaya was hit by a pitch and Zach Canez singled home a run to make it 2-0.

The Eagles (7-19, 1-11) got a run back in the second, but San Benito pulled away with three in the third.

Kevin Medeiros led off with a single before Haggett hit a ball that, according to Luna, cleared the fence. The umpires didn’t have a clear view of the play and met to discuss it before ruling it bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double. Zozaya was then hit by a pitch to load the bases before Canez, who was 2-for-4 with five RBIs, unloaded them with a grand slam.

The ‘Balers put the game in mercy-rule territory with six runs in the fifth. Zozaya had a two-run double and Bryan Scott had a three-run double, before scoring on an error when the throw to attempt to get him out at third was wild.

Luna was happy to see another strong offensive performance, in particular from Haggett, who was experiencing a mini-slump. He flip-flopped Haggett and Medeiros in the order, moving Haggett from the No. 3 to the No. 4 spot and he responded with a 2-for-2 day, including the controversial double and a walk.

“He had three quality at-bats today,” Luna said of Haggett. “On the double, the pitcher made a descent pitch down and he was able to go down and get it.”

With the playoffs on the horizon – the Central Coast Section seeding meeting is Sunday and the postseason begins next week – Luna believes Thursday’s game can have a dual impact.

“It means being champs back-to-back, but it also means getting a real good seed in the playoffs as well,” he said.

Jimmy Durkin
A staff member edited this provided article.

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