Madera American’s Diego Flowers (25) and Adam Landero (32) congratulate Murf Gray (24) with Brian Monges (7) watching after Gray hit a grand slam in the sixth inning of Sunday’s 11-6 loss to Vacaville Central in the Nor Cal Little League tournament. (Wendy Alexander)
FRESNO — With a trip to the Western Regional Little League tournament on the line, the Madera American Little League 11-12-year-old All-Star team fell to a barrage of home runs in losing its first two games in the Nor Cal Little League Tournament at Harry Goorabian Park, home of the River Park Little League.
Playing close to home helped Madera American get the home-crowd advantage, but his lauded pitching staff allowed eight home runs in two games while getting limited to one home run — a grand slam Murf Gray.
“I want to thank all of the people that came out to watch us play,” Molina said. “We had a lot of people that don’t have any relation to the team come out and watch. It was great to see Madera supporting Madera.
It was a three-run shot to Turlock American’s Boston Souza that sent Madera American home with a 9-8 loss Monday in an elimination game. Madera American allowed five home runs in an 11-6 loss to Vacaville Central on Sunday.
“It stings in this game because we were up 8-2,” Molina said. “I’m so proud of these kids. They are good kids. We scored eight runs early and our bats went cold.”
Madera American ace David Ramirez pitched into the second inning and allowed two runs with two strikeouts. However, the three pitchers that followed allowed seven runs with three home runs. Bryan Malagon proved most effective. He didn’t allow a hit over the final 1 1/3 innings with three strikeouts.
“We set it up perfectly,” Molina said. “We got a big lead and it was a perfect set up with our pitchers. We fell behind and gave up home runs.”
Madera American was able to use aggressive baserunning to score eight runs in the first three innings. However, they left the bases loaded in the first two innings and left 10 runners on base.
“That’s how we normally play,” Molina said. “It’s fun doing that. That usually gets us going and it stays like us. We left too many base runners on.”
However, what got Madera American into the tournament — power and pitching — ultimately led to its demise. Madera American entered the tournament with 16 home runs and a 0.65 ERA in seven games. However, in the two games of the tournament, Madera American hit one homer and allowed 10 runs in 10 innings pitched.
Vacaville Cent. 11, Madera Amer. 6
Madera American got off to a slow start and could never recover in an 11-6 loss to Vacaville Central in their opening game of the Nor Cal Little League Tournament on Sunday.
Vacaville Central advanced to face Madera American, who received a bye, with a 12-2 victory over Arcata Little League. Vacaville Central played Canyon Creek on Tuesday in a winner’s bracket semifinal game.
Madera got six hits in the game, but all five Madera American pitchers allowed a run in the loss while the defense committed four errors.
Gray led the way with a grand slam to go with two hits. Adam Landero and Bryan Malagon each had two hits for Madera American.
In the first inning, Vacaville Central got to Ramirez early. After a groundout, Vacaville got two singles and an error scored a run before Ramirez was lifted after a walk with two outs in the first.
Madera American tied the score with a run in the second. After a strikeout, Shohn Varela singled. Adam Landero singled pinch-runner Bryan Malagon to third and Malagon scored on a wild pitch to Brian Monges.
Vacaville opened the second with two singles, but Gray settled down to get a strikeout and an RBI groundout for the go-ahead run. However, Kyler Abramowicz hit a two-run home run to give Vacaville a 4-1 lead.
Vacaville added to its lead with two runs in the third on a two-run home run by Mike Otterstedt off of Benji Molina. Abramowicz hit another home run in the fourth for an 8-1 lead.
Madera American tried to come back in the fifth. After a strikeout, Malagon singled and went to second on an error. Jacob Jaime singled to load the bases. Isaiah Monge walked to force in a run, but the next two batters grounded out to end the inning.
Vacaville hit two more home runs in the fifth inning for an 11-2 lead.
Madera American battled in the top of the sixth when Salas opened the inning with a single. Landero singled and Monges walked to load the bases.
After a strikeout, Gray hit a ball over the left field fence for a grand slam and cut Vacaville’s lead to five, but a strikeout and groundout ended the game.
Turlock Amer. 9, Madera Amer. 8
Turlock American’s final hit was a three-run home run to give them a 9-8 fourth inning lead it would hold on to in an elimination game Monday.
Souza capped a six-run comeback to give Turlock American its only lead of the game. The final seven runs Turlock American scored came via the long ball.
Turlock American, which has hit the most home runs in the tournament, got a two-run homer from Griffen Sotomayor and another two-run homer from Julian Espinoza for the 9-8 victory.
Madera American scored eight runs in the first three innings, but were blanked over the final three innings.
With one out in the top of the first, Madera American began a rally. Gray started with a single to left. Isaiah Monge singled to right and Gray advanced to third. Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to third and Turlock cut down Gray at the plate trying to score.
Molina hit a fly ball to right-center that was dropped for a two-run error. Varela followed with a walk and Diego Flowers singled to load the bases. Adam Landero singled to right to drive in Molina for a 3-0 first inning lead.
Turlock came back in their half of the first off of Ramirez. Two singles led off the inning. After a stolen base and a wild pitch, a groundout scored a run and a passed ball allowed the second run to score.
Madera American added two more runs in the second. Malagon led off with a single and Gray walked. Monge doubled down the right field line to drive in Malagon and Gray. Ramirez followed with a walk. After a flyout, Varela walked to load the bases with one out. However, the next two batters were retired and Madera American led 5-2.
Madera American extended their lead to six with three more runs in the third. With one out, Malagon started the rally with a single. After a gray popout, Monge doubled to left-center to put runners at second and third. Ramirez singled to center and Malagon and Monge scored.
Molina then reached on a throwing error and Ramirez scored all the way from first base for an 8-2 lead.
Nursing a six-run lead, manager Molina went to his bullpen, but they allowed three home runs and seven runs over the next two innings before Malagon closed the door.
After Turlock American scored its go-ahead run in the fourth, Madera American had two innings to score. They got a single by Monge and two batters were hit by pitches, but neither runners advanced past second and Turlock American eliminated Madera American with a 9-8 victory.