Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Cameron Hernandes reaches out for a hit during Thursday’s loss to Bullard. Against Central on Monday, Hernandes scored Madera’s first run of a 4-3 victory to open the Fresno Easter Classic.
After losing two tough games to the Bullard-Fresno Knights last week, Madera Coyotes baseball head coach Andy Underwood was looking for his team to rebound at this week’s Fresno Easter Classic.
However, it wasn’t going to be easy for the Coyotes with the Tri-River Athletic Conference’s Central-Fresno Grizzlies heading to Mel Paker Field to open the Classic.
The Coyotes lost a seventh inning lead to Bullard on Thursday and Central was in position to do the same, but Tommy Molina got a double play to end the game for a 4-3 victory Monday.
Cole Brincefield was the catalyst for the Coyotes. He went two-for-four, but his two-run home run in the fifth inning sparked a four-run, game-winning rally for the Coyotes.
Kristian Gomez tossed the first three innings and allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits. Caleb Galindo got the win with three innings. He allowed one hit and walked two. Molina allowed a run in the seventh, but got the outs when he needed for the save.
Central opened the game with a run in the first inning. Back-to-back singles followed by a wild pitch allowed a run to score. However, Gomez got out of trouble with a lineout and a groundout to get out of the inning.
Meanwhile, Central starter Andrew Perales was shutting down the Coyotes. He allowed just three baserunners over the first four innings — Brincefield reached on an error and a swinging bunt single and Nikayha Castro reached on an error.
The Grizzlies added another run in the third, which was started by a lead-off walk. After a stolen base, the next batter walked. A forceout got the second out, but a wild throw to get the out at first allowed the lead-off batter to score.
Back-to-back hit batters loaded the bases for the Grizzlies.
The next batter hit a grounder to short. Brincefield fed to second baseman Jordan De La Rocha at second for the first out. De La Rocha was upended by the baserunner and the hitter was called out and the baserunner was ejected to end the inning.
The Grizzlies had runners on base in every inning and left nine on with seven in scoring position.
Central had another chance to score in the fifth with a two-out, nobody on rally. A hit batter followed by a single to right put runners at first and third. Central tried a double steal, but the runner at third was caught off the bag when catcher Cameron Hernandes threw to third baseman Isaiah Monge for the third out.
Madera finally broke through in the bottom of the fifth and it started with a nobody on, two out rally when Hernandes was hit by a pitch.
Two pitches later, Brincefield lifted a ball to right-centerfield that cleared the fence for a two-run home run to tie the score.
Shane Pursell started the next rally with a walk. Tommy Molina singled to left and Nikayha Castro walked to load the bases.
Gomez thought he walked on a 3-1 pitch, but it was called a strike. He regrouped and hit the 3-2 pitch into right field for a single that scored Pursell and pinch-runner Noah Angulo from second for a 4-2 lead.
Madera had a chance to add to the lead in the bottom of the inning with a single and two walks to load the bases, but a groundout ended the inning.
Central put the pressure on in the seventh. Galindo hit the first batter of the seventh inning. Molina came in and got a grounder up the middle to Brincefield. He touched second for the force, but threw wild for the double play.
The next batter walked and a wild pitch put runners at first and third. The next batter hit a fly ball to left-centerfield. The ball was just out of reach of left fielder Jonathan Ramirez and Pursell for a single to drive in a run. The two collided and Pursell had to leave the game.
Molina regrouped and got a groundball to Brincefield. This time Brincefield touched second and threw a strike to first for the double play to end the game.
Madera continues play in the Easter Classic today in Mel Parker Field at 10 a.m. against Foothill-Palo Cedro.