Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Caleb Pursell (15) congratulates Tony Noriega after scoring on Anthony Velasquez’s grand slam in the third inning of Tuesday’s 8-4 victory over Bullard.
Madera Coyote pinch-hitter Anthony Velasquez anchored a seven-run third inning with a grand slam to lead his team to an 8-5 County/Metro Athletic Conference victory over the Bullard-Fresno Knights at Madera South’s Eddie Chapa Field.
The Coyotes took advantage of 10 walks from Bullard pitchers for Tuesday’s victory. Nikayha Castro picked up the win on the mound. He tossed 3 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and allowed four runs. Nate Encinas picked up the save with three innings of work. He allowed an unearned run with three strikeouts.
“It’s a great win to get to 2-0,” head coach Andy Underwood said. “We have had a roller coaster start to the season. With our schedule, not having a home field and being on the road for 11 games, it’s not a bad start for us.”
Leadoff batter Caleb Pursell and No. 2 batter, Pursell’s brother Shane, kick-started the Coyotes offense. Caleb reached base all four times at the plate with two singles, two walks, two stolen bases and a run scored. Shane walked his first two times up and also scored a run. Every batter but two scored a run.
“Caleb, at the top of the lineup, has been a table setter for us,” Underwood said. “He has accepted his role of a lead off hitter and understands his strength. For whatever reason, pitchers have a tough time pitching to him. He really grinds and battles. Shane has stepped up. He is still learning into the role of a No. 2 hitter. He bunts well, but he still does some things we need to work on, but he’s a young guy.”
The Coyotes got on the scoreboard in the first inning. Caleb walked, but was thrown out at third trying to take two bases on an errant pickoff throw. Shane Pursell, Christian Chavira and Adam Medellin each drew walks to load the bases. Nick Martinez flew out to center to drive in Pursell for a 1-0 lead.
Bullard added a run in the third with three singles to tie the score.
The Coyotes took advantage of two more walks from Bullard starter Isaac Ayon to blow the game open.
Caleb Pursell singled to open the inning. He stole second and Shane drew a walk to put runners at first and second. Chavira forced Pursell at second.
Medellin singled to left to drive in Caleb Pursell. An error allowed Chavira to advance to third and Medellin to second. Martinez drew another walk to load the bases and chase Ayon.
Tony Noriega singled to right field to drive in Chavira for a 4-1 lead and keep the bases loaded. Medellin came in to score on a passed ball to move runners to second and third. After a strikeout, Nick Aguilar drew a walk to load the bases.
Underwood called on Velasquez to pinch hit for Joey Medina. Velasquez quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count. Two pitches later, Velasquez lined a ball over the left field fence through the strong wind for a grand slam to blow the game open with an 8-1 lead.
“He made me look really smart,” Underwood said. “He’s a guy I’ve been thinking about. Last year, he proved himself as a pinch hitter. He’s a guy that can do damage. He has a fast bat, fast hands so when he gets a hold of the ball, it goes. If we can get him to be more consistent offensively, just putting the barrel on the baseball, he’s definitely a guy we will use more.”
The Coyotes couldn’t score after the third despite a leadoff double by Chavira in the fourth and leaving Caleb Pursell at third with one out in the sixth.
The Knights scored three more runs in the fourth to chase Castro. Freshman Kristian Gomez came in to close out the inning with a groundout and flyout.
Gomez walked the leadoff batter in the fifth, but Encinas came in to get a double play and end the Bullard threat. He allowed an unearned run in the seventh, but got the help from another double play for an 8-5 victory.