Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Liberty freshman second baseman Jakson Bucher receives a throw at second to force out oncoming Madera runner Tommy Molina during Tuesday’s victory over the Coyotes.
Since getting routed by the Yosemite-Oakhurst Badgers last week, the Liberty Hawks baseball team has won its last three games, including Wednesday’s 4-0 non-conference, rain make-up victory over the Madera Coyotes in Mel Parker Field.
Both teams geared up for the non-conference make-up game Wednesday with league games in the forefront. Madera saved ace Nikayha Castro for Friday’s battle with Madera South while Liberty held out ace Nathanael Samarin for Thursday’s battle with the Badgers.
Since a 24-2 on March 13, the Hawks defeated the Chowchilla Tribe and then rebounded to defeat Yosemite 14-7 MOnday before defeating the Coyotes.
“It doesn’t matter who we see in front of us each day,” head coach Mario Cosma said.
The Hawks got a gritty pitching performance from Gage Arter. He earned the shutout without a strikeout. He scattered six hits and kept the Coyotes off balance all night.
“He did a great job keeping his ball down,” Cosma said. “When he is on the mound, we know he’s going to pitch to contact and we have to play good defense behind him. His unorthodox delivery keeps teams off balance and he’s been good for us all year.”
Chase Shellenger led the Hawks with two hits with a double. Meanwhile, Jonathan Ramirez was the only Coyote with two hits.
“We were able to put the pressure on them early,” Cosma said. “We attacked their starter and caused trouble on the bases.”
Liberty got on the scoreboard in the first inning. With one out, Schellenger drew a four-pitch walk. Nathanael Samarin hit a high chopper over pitcher Kristian Gomez’s glove for an infield single.
After a strikeout, Gomez got a potential inning-ending grounder. However, a bobble on the grounder kept the inning alive and drove in Schellenger.
Jakson Bucher hit a fly ball to left field, but it was dropped for another error while Samarin came in to score.
Bradley Moon drew a walk to keep the rally going to load the bases. However, a lineout ended the inning.
Madera threatened in the bottom of the first inning. Shane Pursell reached on a one-out error. Tommy Molina singled to put runners at first and second. Nikayha Castro forced Molina at second, but stole second. The next batter grounded out to end the inning.
Liberty added another run in the second. With one out, Quaid Copher doubled to left-center. He went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a double down the right field line from Schellenger.
Liberty threatened in the top of the third. Bucher drew a one-out walk to start the rally. After Bradley Moon walked, Arter forced Moon at second to put runners at first and third. With Rylan Howe at the plate, Arter took off for second. However, the Coyotes knew what was going on and pitcher David Monge threw to the plate to get Bucher trying to steal home to end the inning.
Madera got back-to-back singles from Cole Brincefield and Pursell, but a double play ended the third inning.
Copher started a fourth inning rally with a walk. Schellenger singled while Copher advanced to third. Samarin hit a grounder to second that forced Schellenger, but the throw to get Samarin at first went in the dirt and couldn’t get scooped while Copher scored for a 4-0 lead.
From there, the Coyotes held Liberty to just two baserunners over the final three innings.
After Monge reached on a one-out single, Sam Hass forced him at second. Ramirez followed with a single and Hass advanced to third, but a groundout ended the fourth inning.
From there, Arter allowed just two baserunners over the final three innings. He got double plays to get out of the sixth and seventh innings to get the victory.