Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Brian Hefner clears the bases with a three-run home run in a 6-5 victory over Consumnes Oaks on Tuesday. He had a hit in each game in the Fresno Easter Classic while driving in seven runs and pitched Madera to a victory Wednesday.
Playing in the friendly confines of Mel Parker Field, the Madera Coyotes baseball team closed out the 49th annual Fresno Easter Classic with a 5-3 victory over the Pleasant Grove-Elk Grove Eagles.
The Coyotes played all four games of the Easter Classic in Mel Parker Field and received steady pitching performances all week to go undefeated.
“This is the first time my team has done it,” Underwood said. “We gave a few runs away at the end, which killed our chances of getting into the championship game. We pitched great, got timely hits, played good defense, at times. There’s still a lot to learn with our group. Sometimes you shake your head, sometimes you’re frustrated at the guys. We’re trying to get better and working on things.”
Kristian Gomez allowed three hits in a 12-1 win over Kerman on Monday. Nikayha Castro allowed two runs in five innings in a comeback win over Consumnes Oaks-Elk Grove in the second game Monday.
“The night game Monday, when we gave up the lead, we were pretty confident with our hitters and who they had on the mound,” Underwood said. “It shows a little toughness on their part.”
Christian Chavira tossed a one-hitter in a 1-0 win over Hanford West on Tuesday.
“Chavira threw great,” Underwood said. “For a guy who hasn’t pitched much in high school, he’s really good stuff and command of his fastball and breaking ball, which makes him a good pitcher. He’s definitely in the mix to pitch in league. With that guy, it’s more him wanting the ball on the mound. We love him to have to confidence to do it everyday.”
Ace Brian Hefner tossed 5 2/3 solid innings, allowing an unearned run with five strikeouts in Wednesday’s win over Pleasant Grove.
“Hefner has been great all year. He’s our player of the year right now,” Underwood said. “It’s pretty clear he’s our ace. He’s got potential no-hit stuff. Nobody hits him hard. His ball is cutting, running, throwing his curveballs for strikes. He’s a presence on the mound and composed. He’s not rattled by anything.”
Brixton Gomes picked up the win in the come-from-behind win Monday and earned the save in Wednesday’s win.
“Brixton has been awesome all year for us,” Underwood said. “He’s been really great and a good addition to our club this year.”
Underwood hopes to use the momentum of the tournament to close out the first round of the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
“We have to keep it rolling,” he said. “We hope to get the next two to finish 4-1 in the first half of the CMAC.”
Madera 12, Kerman 1
The Coyotes took advantage of seven walks and nine hits to invoke the five-inning mercy rule to end the first game of the tournament after five innings Monday.
Gomez led the Coyotes on the mound with a complete game victory.
Hefner, Tommy Molina and Christian Chavira each had two hits while Hefner drove in two runs and Jerry Hernandez drove in three.
Isaiah Monge, Isaac Chavira, Tommy Molina and Gomez each scored two runs.
Madera 6, Consumnes Oak 5
The Madera Coyotes lost a three-run lead, but walked off with the victory Monday night.
Castro allowed two runs in the first inning, but held off the Wolfpack for the next four innings and left with a 5-2 lead.
Christian Chavira and Tony Noriega each had two runs to lead an eight-hit attack. Chavira also scored two runs. Hefner had the big hit, a three-run home run in the fourth inning.
Trailing 2-0 in the first inning, the Coyotes answered. Chavira led off the first with a double and scored when Noriega reached on an error.
The Coyotes left two runners on base in the second and third innings before breaking through in the fourth.
With one out, Castro drew a walk. Hernandez put down a bunt, but beat it out to put runners at first and second. Chavira forced Castro at third, but Caleb Purcell followed with a run-tying single to drive in Hernandez.
Hefner followed by driving a low pitch over the right-centerfield fence for a three-run home run to give the Coyotes a 5-2 lead.
Noriega came in relief of Castro and walked the first batter he saw. He settled down with a pair of strikeouts, but walked another batter. The Wolfpack got back-to-back RBI singles to cut the Madera lead to one.
Gomes came in and got a potential inning-ending grounder. However, the ball was booted and Consumnes Oaks scored the game-tying run. Gomes got a popout to end the inning.
Both teams couldn’t score in their respective half innings to set up seventh inning Coyote heroics.
Noriega led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a single to left. Two wild pitches sent him to third. With the infield drawn in, Gomez lined a single past the drawn in shortstop to drive in Noriega for the game-winning run.
Madera 1, Hanford West 0
With the way Chavira was pitching, all the Coyotes needed was one run and that was all he got despite seven runners left on base.
Chavira only allowed one hit — a fifth inning single. He allowed four base runners, but picked one off and another was caught trying to steal second. He didn’t allow a runner past second base.
With Chavira cruising along, the Coyotes’ offense was limited to just four hits.
Madera scored a run in the first inning and it stood the rest of the game.
Chavira led off the bottom of the first by reaching on an error. He went to second on a wild pitch and to third in a Purcell sacrifice bunt. Hefner singled to left to drive in Chavira for the lone run of the game.
Hefner was thrown out at the plate in a botched first-and-third steal attempt.
Madera left three runners at third, all three with less than two outs in the inning.
Madera 5,Pleasant Grove 3
With a chance at playing in the Ester Classic championship game, the Coyotes did their part with a 5-3 victory, however, giving up three runs ended hope under the second tiebreaker — runs allowed.
Entering the final game, the Coyotes gave up six runs in the tournament and were fifth among undefeated teams, including two with three runs allowed.
Pleasant Grove scored a run in the fifth and two more in the sixth to keep the Coyotes out of the title game.
Coyotes ace Hefner was solid through the first five innings. He retired the first nine batters in order before running into trouble in the sixth.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes’ offense gave their ace some runs.
After Chavira was stranded at third in the first, the Coyotes got on the scoreboard in the second. Isaac Chavira led off the inning with a single to left. Tommy Molina drew a walk and Nick Aguilar drew another walk to load the bases.
Hernandez drew Madera’s third straight walk to force in Chavira. Christian Chavira flew out to center and Molina scored the second run of the inning.
Madera added two more runs in the third. With one out, Noriega drew a walk. Gomez singled Noriega to third on a hit-and-run. Isaac Chavira drew a walk to load the bases.
Molina followed with a single up the middle to drive in both Noriega and Gomez for a 4-0 lead.
Madera added a run in the fourth after starting the inning with two strikeouts. Purcell started the rally with an infield single. He went to second on a throwing error and scored on Hefner’s single to right for a 5-0 lead.
The Eagles scored a run in the fifth with two singles, an error and a groundout. They cut the lead with two runs in the sixth.
An error, walk and balk put runners at second and third. A run scored on a wild throw back to Hefner while a wild pitch plated another run to cut the lead to two.
Hefner struck out the next two batters, but a hit batter brought in Gomes in relief. He allowed a single, but struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Gomes got a pop out and a flyout before walking a batter in the seventh. He got a flyout to Purcell in center for the final out of the game.