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Generals beat Wasco to advance to baseball semis

The Shafter High Generals baseball team headed to the semifinals of the Central Section Division V playoffs with a 3-1 victory over rivals Wasco High. Shafter used a three-run second inning to put up all of the runs they would need to take care of the visiting Tigers.

The Generals used three pitchers in the contest, when starter Lukas Pena had a little trouble from the beginning of the game. Andy Gomez came in and promptly put the Tigers down in order. Gomez dominated until the sixth inning, when he walked a batter and a Tiger got a hit, putting the tying run on base.

Matteo Martinez then came in and got the Generals out of the jam, also thanks to some excellent defense, which was outstanding all game, including two double plays, a pick-off by Gomez and catcher Jacob Bernal throwing out a runner trying to steal second base, ending Wasco threats. First year Head Coach John Hill commented on his team's performance. "We were pretty solid all the way across on defense and pitching," he said. "I think we have one of the best defensive teams around. Our hitting started out slow, but we got hotter later in the game. That's the thing we tell the boys: We don't play two [innings], we play seven. That means that we fight all the way through. The boys did really well."

Shafter made the most of three hits, two errors and a walk to score three runs in the second inning against Damian Santos, the Tigers starter who went the distance. He scattered seven hits and held the Generals scoreless in the final four innings.

In the Shafter second, Alex Balderrama reached on an error and moved to third on a two-base throwing error. Jacob Gutierrez followed with an RBI-single, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. After a walk to Jesus Paez, JJ Hinojosa doubled off the base of the left-field fence to chase home Paez. No. 9 hitter Jacob Bernal followed with a single to right to score Hinojosa for a 3-1 lead.

Bernal went 2 for 3, the only Shafter player with multiple hits.

Many of the kids on the team have been playing together since the fifth grade. "When our son and his friends were in the fifth grade, we decided to start the Shafter Bombers, a traveling baseball team in Shafter," said Jennifer Garza. "So, a lot of them have been playing on the same teams all the way from grade school."

The Generals then got a pleasant surprise after the game when they found out that the No. 2 seed Yosemite had been beaten, meaning the third-seeded Generals will be able to stay home and play Firebaugh for a trip to the Valley Championship on the line.


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