City overwhelms County
Nugesse Ghebrendrias/The Madera tRbiune
Representing the County All-Stars, from left, are Chowchilla’s Aden Munoz and Clay Curutchet and Madera’s Isaiah Monge, Nathan Palacioz and Nathan Martinez. Not pictured is A.J. Rocha from Madera South.
“I have a lot of pride wearing this jersey and it felt good playing in front of everybody.” — Nathan Palacioz, Madera
FRESNO — The City’s dominance in the City/County All-Star Baseball Game continued after the City upended County, 9-3.
A second-pitch home run by Buchanan’s Temo Becerra to left field set the tone for the City all-stars as they added five runs in the first, putting County in a hole they were unable to climb out of Sunday night at Chukchansi park.
“It was the first inning of an all-star game and you just had to set the tone early,” said County Head Coach Alex Gutierrez (Firebaugh), “For pitchers, it is a different type of routine in an all-star game and he came and struggled a little bit and walked a few guys. But, [Anfernee] Murrieta is a really good player and there is a reason why he was starting today.”
Murrieta (Lemoore) allowed five earned runs in the top of the first inning after a 350-foot home run by Becerra. Becerra took the first pitch before launching one over the left field wall for the first home run to open the game in the event’s history.
The early home run opened the flood gates that saw four more runs walk across the plate before County got out of the inning. County had their best chance in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Washington Union’s Carsen Fusi sent a deep shot to left field that would’ve scored three runs to cut the deficit 8-6, but the City team was fortunate the ball landed on the warning track.
Becerra’s blast was one of many highlights for the City team, but the County squad, highlighted by some of Madera and Chowchilla’s finest, put up an impressive fight from start to finish.
Newly crowned Div. II Central Section Championship winners Nathaniel Martinez, Isaiah Monge and Nathan Palacioz represented the Madera Coyotes on the night and flashed the championship-level play that Maderans were accustomed to seeing.
Monge recorded a throwing error in the game, but his solid glove work at shortstop was key in County holding City to only four runs in the final eight innings. Monge recorded a hit on a hard ground ball up the middle.
Martinez came into the game in the top of the fifth inning trailing 7-1. He allowed a runner to score in the inning, but flashed his pedigree as he went after some of the best hitters in Clovis. After the game, the Madera senior touched on his mentality on the mound and his final night wearing the Coyote crest.
“Once I stepped on the mound, I was ready to go,” Martinez said. “I just went out there and did my best since it was my last high school game.”
Palacioz entered the following inning and, like his teammate, faced some of the best talent in the Central Valley. The Coyote right hander dominated the side, keeping the City bats quiet to preserve an 8-1 deficit.
“The goal was to do the best I can for my team. That’s all I wanted, to come out and try to win,” Palacioz said. “I came in confident and tried my best.”
For Madera South, powerful first baseman A.J. Rocha represented the Stallions and although had a quiet night at the plate, he left with his head held high. The Stallion finished his career seeing the baseball program at the highest level in its history and thanks to his efforts, Madera South can continue the program in a positive direction.
“The Madera guys were great. I thought earlier in the week it was hard to get them into practice because they were still playing, but we knew they were going to come in and play a factor at some point,” Gutierrez said. “Nathan and Nathaniel pitched really well today and you can see why they are section champions. Rocha and Isaiah are great players as well and they brought a lot to the County team.”
For the Chowchilla Tribe, Aden Munoz and Clay Curutchet represented their colors with pride.
Munoz had a rocky start to open the game at shortstop, but rebounded like he’s accustomed to and provided speed on the base paths by nearly beating out a close play at first. Munoz also received the County’s Most Inspirational Player Award.
Curutchet leaves behind both a strong senior campaign, but career in Chowchilla He didn’t get enough at bats Sunday night to get going, but flashed the leather at first base.
“Aidan got the award for us and he was there for all three practices,” Gutierrez said. “Him and Clay are just great kids and we actually got a chance to play them in the playoffs and we got to see what they are all about. They’re both gifted players.”