Tyler A. Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Members of the Madera Coyotes baseball team celebrate near first base after Nick Martinez hit a walk-off single for a 4-3 victory Friday over Madera South. Martinez, who also tossed the first 4 2/3 innings, drove in three of his team’s four runs.
After giving up a two-run lead in the top of the seventh inning, the Madera Coyotes baseball team got the walk-off winner for a 4-3 victory over the Madera South Stallions to conclude the first round of the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
Nick Martinez drove in Shane Pursell with the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning for the Coyotes, who were the home team at Madera South’s Eddie Chapa Field.
“Nick has been hitting the ball really,” Madera head coach Andy Underwood said. “He’s getting the barrel of the bat to the ball. He’s hot right now and locked in.”
The win gave the Coyotes a spotless 5-0 record in the first round of the CMAC. Madera hosted Sanger at Eddie Chapa Field on Tuesday before playing at Sanger on Friday. The game will be the last Coyote “home” game at Madera South’s field and figure to christen the remodeled Mel Parker Field on April 21.
“We’re hot in the CMAC,” Underwood said. “We’re in the driver’s seat. That can quickly change. We have two against Sanger and they are very good. Our focus and our goal is game-to-game right now. We want to win every series. Hopefully, we can sweep a couple of them.”
On the other hand, the Stallions fell to 1-4 in the CMAC, but could have easily been 4-1. Madera South suffered walk-off losses to Bullard-Fresno and Madera. The Stallions also missed a squeeze bunt that would have given them a victory over Edison-Fresno.
“I told the kids every game we’ve been in,” Madera South head coach Bobby Waits said. “We could easily be 5-0, but we’re 1-4. It just hasn’t worked out in our favor. The hardest thing to explain to them is they have to keep grinding. They have to understand that if they keep working hard, you’re going to have ups and downs. We’re not quite in the hot stage. We’re coming up just short. Hopefully, this will helps us out down the line. They are mentally tough guys.”
Nate Encinas came in relief of Martinez in the fifth inning and got out of trouble. He tossed the final 2 1/3 innings to pick up the win.
“I thought Nick was a little tired,” Underwood said. “He wasn’t commanding anything off-speed tonight. His ball was starting to elevate. With a runner at second, I thought it was time. Nate has been our stopper all year. He’s been really good out of the bullpen. In my mind, that was the right move to do at the time.”
While Encinas and Martinez held Madera South to just one run over the first six innings, Madera South pitcher Jiovanni Saavedra kept the Stallions in the game. He scattered six hits over 6 1/3 innings with five strikeouts before he had to leave the game because of the CIF’s new 110-pitch count.
Caleb Bertoncini suffered the loss on the mound in the seventh inning.
The Stallions left 11 runners on base and was 4-of-16 (.250 average) with runners in scoring position.
“They played really well and had chances,” Waits said. “Every inning, we had runners in scoring position.”
After Madera South lead-off batter Jeremy Flores was stranded on third base in the top of the first, the Coyotes got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning.
Caleb Pursell led off with a walk, but brother Shane forced him at second. Christian Chavira singled Pursell to second. After a flyout, Martinez singled up the middle to score Pursell with the first run of the game.
Madera South quickly tied the score in the second. Juan Carlos Gonzales led off the second with a double over the head of Pursell in centerfield. He went to second on a groundout and scored on Angelo Feliu’s single up the middle.
However, the Coyotes quickly regained the lead. Brian Hefner started the second inning rally with a lead off single. Kristian Gomez sacrificed Hefner to second. After a walk to Landero, Caleb Pursell doubled to right to drive in Hefner for a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth inning, Shane Pursell drew a walk, but Chavira forced him at second. Martinez then doubled to left center to drive in the second of his three RBIs in the game to open a two-run lead.
Despite putting two runners on base in five of the first six innings, the Stallions only scored one run.
However, the Stallions weren’t done. Josh Conigliaro started a seventh inning rally with a single up the middle. After a strikeout, Bertoncini singled to left to put runners at first and second.
Alonzo Tovar reached on an error to load the bases. Gonzales hit a swinging bunt down the third base line. Catcher Isaac Chavira ran out and tried to tag Conigliaro heading to the plate, but missed to keep the bases loaded with one out and the Stallions trailed by one.
Saavedra hit the first pitch he saw into right field to drive in Bertoncini with the game-tying run.
Underwood went to the mound to calm his team down and get the game into the bottom of the seventh with the game tied.
“(Pitching coach Gary) Moran wanted me to talk to Nate to settle him down a little,” Underwood said. “I wanted to talk to our infield. I wanted to calm the whole group down. We bobbled a ball at second. I just wanted to calm the group down.”
Tied up with the bases loaded, Felix Soria hit the first pitch he saw to the right side. The Coyotes turned a 4-6-3 (Caleb Pursell-Tony Noriega-Hefner) double play to get out of the inning tied.
“I was probably going to squeeze, but I let him go on the first pitch,” Waits said. “The guy is throwing fastballs and it’s straight. Jio jumped on his first pitch and Felix felt like he got a good first pitch. It’s not because of a lack of effort. We’re just coming up a little short.”
Saavedra used the momentum to get Pursell to fly out to center. However, his night would be over after 112 pitches.
Bertoncini walked Shane Pursell on a full-count pitch. He struck out the next batter, but hit Adam Medellin with a pitch to put runners at first and second with one out.
Martinez hit the first pitch he saw into left field and Pursell raced around the bases to score the game-winning run and set off celebration with Martinez near first base.