The Madera National 9-11-year-old All-Star team came up short in its comeback effort against River Park, losing 10-8 in the District 10 tournament semifinals.
Facing a 9-2 deficit, Madera National rallied in the fifth inning and electrified the visiting crowd at River Park Little League in Fresno.
Madera National’s comeback effort started when Christian Guerrero drove in two runs to make it 9-4. Jeevan Bains then drove in Ezekiel Reyes to bring the next run. When Guerrero scored on a wild pitch, Madera National cut the lead to 9-6.
Madera National cut the lead to two in the final inning, but couldn’t get any closer.
“The boys battled hard,” Madera National head coach Robert Nelson said. “We were down a lot of runs and we were able to not look up at that scoreboard and they kept battling.”
Unfortunately, Madera National couldn’t find its way back on top, losing to Selma, 10-4, the next night and get eliminated from the tournament.
Facing Madera National pitcher Jeevon Bains, River Park’s Nate Lopez drove in the first run of the game in the second inning. Trevor Harper then drove in Russell Devony in the third inning to give River Park a 2-0 lead.
Madera National’s Adam Ornelas took the mound in the third inning and gave up an RBI to Anthony Sciola, but ended the inning with a strikeout.
Christian Guerrero helped Madera National score its first run when he drove in Eric Nelson in the third inning. Ezekiel Reyes then scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2.
River Park, however, exploded in the fourth inning. After Zach Wiliams kicked off the inning with a double, Brayden Harris drove in a run and Devony followed up with a double to center field to set up a runner at third base. Dylan Slakey then drove in Harris to make it 5-2. Tyler Mosley made it 6-2 when he drove in Devony.
“We had a slow start and that probably cost us,” Nelson said. “We had some good hits, but they were right to their players.”
Facing Madera National pitcher Michael Lucero in the fifth inning, River Park added another three runs.
After answering with five runs in the fifth inning, Madera National gave up one run in the top of the sixth inning and faced a 10-7 deficit.
With the visiting crowd urging the boys to finish the comeback, Reyes drove in Nelson and brought Madera National within two runs. The game, however, ended with a runner stranded at third base.
“It’s one base at a time, one out, one inning at a time,” Nelson said. “It takes, in our case, 13 kids to do it, so they all battled really well tonight.
“For every loss, you learn something new,” Nelson said. “You learn something from the mistake you made or the hit you did or what you could have done better and so we take those lessons and we move on.”