Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Cole Brincefield (2) gets congratulations from Tony Noriega after his solo home run to get the Coyotes on the socreboard in the fourth inning Thursday.
It looked like the Madera Coyotes baseball team had things lining up in the bottom of the sixth inning.
With two outs and the score tied against sixth seeded and County/Metro Athletic Conference rivals Sanger, Christian Chavira was hit by a pitch and Shane Pursell drew a walk with Madera’s best clutch hitter coming to the plate — Brian Hefner.
However, it was not to be. With a 1-1 count Hefner watched what he thought was a ball go by him. However, the umpire ruled the ball that ended up going through the opposite batter’s box a strike. Hefner was forced to swing at another pitch outside the strike zone because of that strike two pitch and missed to force extra innings.
Sanger loaded the bases in the top of the eight and scored three runs for a 7-4 victory in the Div. II quarterfinals at Mel Parker Field on Thursday.
“The umpires are the worst we’ve seen in seven years I have been here,” head coach Andy Underwood said. “Not that had any factor on the game, per say. Both teams have the same umpires. The umpires have been bad in knowing the rules or making calls. It’s just a lack of good umpires out there.”
The Apaches thought they had the game wrapped up after scoring a run in the top of the sixth, but a two-run double from Tony Noriega capped a three-run rally to tie the score.
“That was a great inning,” Underwood said. “I thought we would take it. We had some opportunities. We had two and our best guy at the plate. It didn’t happen. That’s the way it rolls, sometimes.”
Sanger took the lead in the first inning. With one out, Hefner hit a batter. A double to deep center put runners at second and third. A single and a groundout drove in two runs.
Hefner allowed two base runners over the next three innings until allowing an unearned run in the fifth. A single, wild pitch and a throwing error gave the Apaches a third run.
Chavira opened the first with a walk and he advanced to third with two outs before a strikeout. Tommy Molina opened the third with a double to right-center. However, pinch-runner Nick Aguilar was tagged out trying to advance to third on a groundout.
Cole Brincefield got the Coyotes on the scoreboard with a two outs, solo home run over the centerfield fence to cut Sanger’s lead to 2-1 in the fourth
Sanger took advantage of relief pitcher Brixton Gomes in the sixth inning. They laid down a pair of bunts for hits. That led to a run-scoring double for a 4-1 lead. Gomes settled down and struck out the next to batters to set up the bottom of the inning.
Chavira led off the sixth inning by reaching on an error. After a flyout, Hefner doubled to left-centerfield to put runners at second and third.
Brincefield singled to right-center to drive in Chavira. After Brincefield stole second, Noriega doubled to the left-centerfield fence to score Hefner and Brincefield for the tying run.
However, a strikeout and a lineout ended the threat.
In the eighth, Sanger led off against reliever Nikayha Castro with a single and a sacrifice. Another single and a hit batter loaded the bases.
Castro, trying to pick off the runner who was already at the bag, threw to third, but it went over Brincefield’s head. Two Apaches sored on the play. A single drove in another run and a bunt single put runners at first and second with one out.
Castro settled down to strike out the next to batters, but the damage was done.
Noriega hit a one-out single to open the eighth, but two flyouts ended the Coyotes’ season with a 7-4 loss.