Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Brixton Gomes throws a pitch against the Stallions on Friday. Gomes tossed 2 1/3 innings of no-hit ball to keep the Coyotes on track for a comeback victory against Madera South.
Coyotes score a run in top of seventh to tie game, Hefner hits grand slam for go-ahead runs
With one big swing of the bat, Madera’s Brian Hefner turned a pitcher’s duel into a 6-3 Coyote victory over the Madera South Stallions.
Hefner turned on a 1-0 low fastball and sent it over the right field fence for a grand slam to turn a 2-2 tie into a 6-2 lead in the top of the ninth inning Friday night.
However, it took some heroics before to get the Coyotes into extra innings. Madera South jumped to the early 1-0 lead and added to the lead in the fourth. Madera scored a run in the sixth and the seventh to send the game into extra innings at Eddie Chapa Field.
“For seven innings, they outplayed us,” Madera head coach Andy Underwood said. “I don’t think we deserved to win today the way we were approaching the game, offensively. We came out really flat. They clearly had more energy than us for 6 1/2 innings. But, a win is a win.”
Despite the four-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth, the Stallions added a run and had the game-tying run at the plate before a groundout ended the game.
“My guys have a lot of heart,” Madera South head coach Bobby Waits said. “I’m not worried about not playing. That’s something I take pride in when I took over. They are always going to play until the last out and keep their heads up no matter the result. I just keep saying games like these are going to make us that much stronger.”
Hefner’s big hit rescued his shaking pitching earlier in the game. Hefner, the Coyotes’ ace, allowed two runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked two while dealing with runners on base every inning.
However, Brixton Gomes tossed 2 1/3 innings of no-hit ball. He handed the ball over to Nikayha Castro who allowed a run in three innings. Castro picked up the win with three strikeouts to close the game.
“Our pitching staff, the depth has grown tremendously,” Underwood said. “That was my fear at the beginning of the year. It’s really turned into one of our biggest strength. Guys are coming in confident and are willing to compete.”
The loss ruined the solid game of Madera South starter Carlos Gonzales. He didn’t allow a run until the sixth inning and went into the seventh inning. He allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out three batters.
Frank Chavira came in relief and tossed two scoreless innings. He turned the ball over to Jalen Gray, who picked up the loss after allowing the grand slam.
“We have some guys,” Waits said. “I had to take Frank out earlier than I would have. I wanted Jalen to swing instead of Frank. That made me make a pitching change. I wanted Jalen at the plate. He has some power and can find the gap.”
Shane Purcell led the Coyotes with four hits. Hefner added a single and drove in five runs and lead-off batter Christian Chavira had two hits.
Peyton Kragie led the Stallions with three hits. Alonzo Tovar added two hits and Ramon Uribe hit a double.
The Stallions got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning. Jeremy Flores led off with an infield single. He went to second on a Peyton Kragie single to right. Caleb Bertoncini walked to load the bases.
Gonzales hit into a 6-4-3 (Tony Noriega-Kristian Gomez- Chavira) double play, but Flores came in to score the first run of the game.
Purcell put himself into scoring position with a bunt single and stolen base, but he was stranded at third in the fourth inning.
Madera South added an insurance run in the bottom of the fourth. Gonzales led off the inning with a single up the middle. After a pop-out and a line-out, Tovar drew a walk to move pinch-runner Ricky Reyes to second. A.J. Rocha came off the bench and singled to right to drive in Reyes for a 2-0 lead.
Madera cut the lead down to one in the top of the sixth. With one out, Chavira singled to left. Purcell followed with another single to left. Hefner drove a single to right to drive in Chavira for a 2-1 Madera South lead.
The Coyotes tied the score in the top of the seventh. Tommy Molina led off the inning with a single up the middle. After a line-out, Jerry Hernandez sacrificed pinch-runner Isaiah Monge to second.
Chavira singled to right field and Monge was waved around third. Uribe’s throw to the plate arrived on a hop, but it couldn’t be handled by the Madera South catcher and Monge scored the game-tying run.
“The game’s over if we make the catch at the plate,” Waits said. “That would have ended the game and it was a big moment. It is what it is.”
Castro came in and allowed baserunners, but shortstop Noriega helped out his pither. In the final three innings, Noriega recorded six assists, including five forceouts at second base.
Castro led off the top of the ninth with a walk. Hernandez was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second. After a popout, Purcell singled up the middle to load the bases.
Hefner hit the second pitch he saw over the right field fence for a grand slam and give the Coyotes a 6-2 lead.
“I was thinking nothing other than hitting a home run,” Hefner said. “I wasn’t thinking. I just saw it big. It was a like a beach ball. It was low and I knew it was gone right off the bat.”
The Stallions weren’t done, though. Tovar led off the ninth inning with a single to right. After a strikeout, Uribe hit a ground-rule double over the left-centerfield fence to put runners at second and third.
After a strikeout, Kragie reached on an infield single to drive in Tovar.
Bertoncini came to the plate representing the game-tying run and hit a grounder to Noriega at short, who threw to second for the force to end the game.
“It shows some toughness on our team,” Underwood said. “You have to have these kinds of games. You have to learn from them. The difference from this year and last years, is we are winning these games.”