Serving the community since 1922

Generals fall just short of title game

The Shafter High Generals baseball team saw their season come to an end on Thursday afternoon as they dropped a heartbreaking game to SSL rival Chavez High School 4-2 in eight innings.

Shafter had used a powerful offense in the second half of the season, pounding out hits and playing stellar defense, conquering all who were in their way. But the Generals didn't get that offensive performance in the State tournament games, relying on one big inning in each game to eke out victories. It worked in the first round as they exploded for six runs in the sixth inning, nullifying a 2-0 lead by the Eagles, getting the Generals their first ever Regional playoff victory. Against Chavez at home, the Generals found themselves in the same predicament. Trailing 2-0, Shafter tied up the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, thanks to hits by Matteo Martinez and Christopher Espinoza, evening the score going into the seventh inning.

Neither team could score in the seventh, forcing extra innings after the regulation seven. Andy Gomez replaced Martinez on the mound in the eighth inning. The Titans got two runners on, thanks in part to a call by the second base umpire, who ruled that the Shafter second baseman pulled his foot off of the bag too soon, making him safe.

After a walk to load the bases, Gomez struck out the next batter. But the Titans' next batter hit a slow roller to third base. Instead of going for the force play at home, Espinoza decided to go for the double play to end the inning. Unfortunately for the Generals, the throw from second to first was in the dirt and wasn't scooped up by first baseman Jesus Paez, allowing two Titan runners to score, making the Titans the first SSL team to make it to the Southern California Regional Championship.

Even though the season was one game short of Eden, the Generals had the best baseball season in Shafter High history, winning Shafter's first ever Valley championship in baseball in the school's 96 year history.

First year Head Coach John Hill said that he cried at the final out of the Valley Championship game, an 8-0 rout of Matilda Torres. "These are a special group of guys, and I am so proud of the way they fought all year and decided that this was going to be their year."

With a few of the players graduating this year, buddies and teammates since the fifth grade in rec ball and the Shafter Bombers' team, there is still a strong nucleus returning that could make it possible for Shafter to even raise the bar that was put in place this year. It is doubtful that the community will have to wait another 96 years for a return engagement in the title game.


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