Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
From left, Madera Unified School District deputy superintendent of administration and support services Sandon Schwartz, MUSD chief academic officer Jesse Carrasco and MUSD school board members Ed McIntyre and Ray Siebert show off their arms in throwing out the first pitch Saturday before Madera’s season opener against Sunnyside in the newly refurbished Mel Parker Field.
With some of the Madera Unified School District VIPs in attendance, the Madera Coyotes baseball team didn’t let the re-opening of the new Mel Parker Field begin with a loss.
Despite a shaky start, Nikayha Castro tossed four solid inning for the win Saturday while the Coyotes celebrated the re-opening of Mel Parker Field, almost two years after high winds broke telephones into the old backstop.
“We’re still working on a few things,” head coach Andy Underwood. “The bleachers help make this place so much nicer. It’s home and it’s fun to be here.”
The pitching of Castro and Brixton Gomes, along with a seven run second inning, helped lead the Coyotes to a 9-5 victory over the Sunnyside-Fresno Wildcats in the opening game of the three-week long Coca-Cola Classic.
Castro allowed four runs in the first two innings, but didn’t allow another. Gomes allowed an earned run in the seventh, but picked up a three inning save.
“It took Nikayha a couple of innings to find his rhythm and timing to get the opening season jitters out,” Underwood said. “I thought he found his rhythm. We were going to pull him after the fourth and kept him in another inning.
“Brixton was great. His intensity was there. He wants to be here, wants to be on the mound, wants the ball and wants the opportunities and showed us.”
Brian Hefner, Isaac Chavira and Jerry Hernandez each had two hits to lead an 11-hit attack.
Sunnyside took advantage of Castro’s early jitters. Kiundre McDowell hit Castro’s first pitch into center for a single. He tried to steal second, but a dropped ball allowed him to arrive safely.
After a flyout to right, five straight Wildcats reached base safely. However, the defense bailed Castro out. The combination of Christian Chavira, Brian Hefner and Isaac Chavira thew a runner out at the plate and Isaac Chavira threw out a runner trying to steal third to end the inning.
Sunnyside added a run in the second after a lead-off walk. A bunt moved the runner to second. The next batter hit a grounder to Tony Noriega for the first out. However, a return throw to third was wild to allow the lead-off batter to score for a 4-0 lead.
Cole Brincefiled led off a seven-run second that saw 12 batters go to the plate with a single to center. Chavira doubled to right-center to drive in Brincefield. Tommy Molina walked and Jerry Hernandez sacrificed the runners to second and third.
Noriega flew out to center that allowed Chavira to score. Kristian Gomez hit a ground-rule double to left to drive in Molina. Shane Purcell singled up the middle to drive in Gomez and tie the score.
After Purcell stole second, Christian Chavira singled up the middle to drive in Purcell with the go-ahead run.
Hefner tripled to deep right field to drive in Chavira. Brincefield sruck out, but reached first on a throwing error, which allowed Hefner to score. Isaac Chavira drew a walk, but Molina flew out to end the inning with a 7-4 lead.
“It shows some toughness,” Underwood said. “They were down and didn’t quit. That’s going to be out story for our team, our offense, putting up runs. We need those guys to produce in order to win some games this year.”
Madera added to its lead in the fourth inning. Christian Chavira led off with a walk and went to third on a single to right center from Hefner. After Hefner stole second, Brincefield flew out to right, but Chavira came in to score for an 8-4 lead.
For the third time in the game when Madera’s lead-off batter reached base, he came around to score. Hernandez led off the fifth with a single to center. Noriega singled to left to put runners at first and second. Gomez sacrificed runners to second and third.
Shane Purcell flew out to right field to drive in Hernandez for a 9-4 lead.
Sunnyside cut Madera’s lead by one in the seventh with a two-out bad-hop single and a double to right center. Gomes settled down and got a groundout to Brincefield to end the game.
Madera continued play in the Coca Cola Classic on Tuesday hosting Clovis North and continues Thursday at Clovis, both at 3:30 p.m.