Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Tony Noriega scores a run while Madera South’s Seth Goodrich awaits a throw during the third inning of Friday’s 6-1 victory.
For the second time in less than a week, the Madera Coyotes boys baseball team outlasted next-door rivals Madera South after scoring five runs in the second and third innings to finish the 2018 County/Metro Athletic Conference season with a 6-1 win at Eddie Chapa field.
Originally scheduled for Friday night, the games were pushed ahead to help ease scheduling for the playoffs.
It didn’t seem to bother the Coyotes. They expected to win and that’s exactly what they did.
“We’re hot right now,” Madera head coach Andy Underwood said. “We’ve got a ton of confidence in our guys so, if you ask me I expected a game like this. I expected to come out swinging the bats well, play good defense, pitch well and win the game.”
Christian Chavira and Tony Noriega combined to power the Coyotes. The pair combined for five hits and four RBIs. Chavira also had two doubles.
The Coyotes’ bats came to life, but pitcher Brian Hefner had a fastball that was working all night long.
The 6-foot, 4-inch senior went six strong innings, allowing four hits and an unearned run. His dominant breaking ball helped contribute to six strikeouts.
“He’s been having a little elbow trouble,” Underwood said. “We sat him for about two and a half weeks to let his arm rest and recover. He was really fresh and sharp tonight and when things got a little bit tougher, he got tougher. His breaking ball was pretty sharp, and it was a good situation.”
Madera South, on the other hand, battled throughout, but couldn’t string enough hits together to put pressure on Hefner.
Although the Stallions have been playing Div I and II opponents all CMAC season, they never wavered and proved that they can play good baseball.
“The one inning got us a little bit,” Madera South head coach Bobby Waits said. “(Starting pitcher) Caleb (Bertoncini) went to field a bunt and he stepped on the ball, lost his footing and that would’ve been an out. In turn, it led to a perfect bunt, which I couldn’t have gone and set the ball down any better. They ended up scoring in that inning and that was a tough break for us.
“This a is a tough league for us. We are the only Div. III team in the league. Fifteen of our 27 games have been against Div. I and II teams, so it’s a grind every year to be in this league. I just told our guys there are three seasons — preseason, league and postseason. We are zero and zero, back to the division we are supposed to be playing and we were successful. We were 6-2 versus Div. III in the preseason. I feel great about our opportunities to make a run at this.”
Caleb Bertonicini was on the mound for Madera South. He started off shaky, loading the bases in the opening inning, but showed that Stallion perseverance, to bring himself back under control.
Things began to unravel for the Stallions in the second inning.
Both Noriega and Kristian Gomez executed bunts off Bertoncini to open the inning and would would later score. Tommy Molina pushed the runners over with another base hit for the Coyotes.
With the bases loaded, Isaac Chavira had a chance to bring in the first run of the game. He grounded out, but Noriega came in to score. Madera had the lead by one run, but more importantly, kept the inning alive.
Jerry Hernandez followed with a walk and Christian Chavira came to the plate with another opportunity to push runs across the plate. Chavira got a pitch up in the zone and launched a ball to the center field fence. Gomez and Molina came around for a 3-0 Madera lead.
The Coyotes continued their assault in the top of the third after Cole Brincefield led off the inning with a deep shot to right field. The ball bounced off the top of the wall and back into the field of play, forcing him to settle for a triple.
He wouldn’t be on base for long after Noriega drove him in with a single to right field for a 4-0 lead.
Noriega went to third on a throwing error by the Stallion catcher Seth Goodrich after stealing second. A sac fly from Gomez brought him home and give the Coyotes a 5-0 lead.
The Stallions got their first chance in the bottom of the fourth after Beronicini drew a walk and Gonzales and Jerry Hernandez singled to load the bases.
Kingsley Thomas hit a chopper to second, allowing Bertonicini to score Madera South’s first, and only, run of the game.
Madera tacked on another run later in the game for the 6-1 victory.