Complete game sends Coyotes to semis
Tyler Takeda/The madera Tribune
Madera’s Isaac Flores swings at a pitch for a seventh inning double that drove in two runs in Friday’s 11-2 victory over Fresno. Flores had three hits, drove in three runs and scored two runs in the win.
No matter the Fresno Warriors were the No. 3 seed. No matter Madera graduation ceremonies later that night. What mattered to the Madera Coyotes baseball team was banging out 15 hits and advancing to the Div. II semifinals with an 11-2 victory.
“That was the most complete game,” head coach Andy Underwood said. “Even the dugout was involved. That was the most energy we have had all year.”
It started with pitcher Nathan Palacioz tossing a complete game and moved on to 15 hits from the offense.
“On the mound, we were fantastic,” Underwood said. “We haven’t hit like that all year. Hopefully, we’re getting hot at the right time. It was a fun game to be a part of.”
Palacioz scattered eight hits and allowed runs in the third and sixth innings. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter in an efficient outing. He tossed 81 pitches in seven innings to only six batters over the minimum. He also got help from four double plays.
Meanwhile, five Coyotes had multi-hit games, led by Isaac Flores, Isaiah Monge and Evan Candelaria, who each had three hits. Flores drove in three runs, scored twice and hit a double. Lead-off batter David Zavala was 2-for-5 with a double, three RBIs and two runs scored.
Palacioz helped himself out with a pair of hits, a run scored and an RBI. Isaak Murillo scored twice.
After 10 Coyotes graduated Friday night after the game, Madera plays at No. 2 seed El Diamante in Visalia on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.
“Everything this whole year as been different,” Underwood said. “These kids are very adaptive to the situation. They are resilient. I don’t think it matters. We’ve been jumping around from one place to another and it’s been like that all year. We’re ready to play. I wouldn’t want to play us. We’re hot right now.”
The game almost started in disaster for Palacioz and the Coyotes.
The Warriors loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the first inning.
Palacioz settled down and got a popout to catcher Flores. The next batter hit a liner back to Palacioz. He then threw to Candelaria at third to double up the runner and get out of the inning.
Madera took advantage of the momentum in the top of the second inning. Candelaria led off with a single to right. After a pop-up bunt for the first out, Murillo hit an opposite-field single to left to put two on. Flores tried to bunt the runners 90 feet, but beat the throw to first to load the bases.
After a strikeout, Zavala went the other way with a sharp grounder down the first base line for a double to drive in Candelaria and Murillo and move Flores to third.
Logan Wattenbarger hit a grounder to second. The throw to first pulled the first baseman off the bag and allowed Flores to third.
Meanwhile, Zavala made his way around the bases and broke for the plate. The throw to the plate went to the backstop and Zavala scored for a 4-0 lead.
Monge followed with a single up the middle, but Wattenbarger was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Madera kept the momentum in the top of the third. Palacioz led off with a single. He went to third on a hit-and-run single from Candelaria.
After a pop-up, Murillo put down a bunt and Palacioz scored on the safety squeeze. Flores kept the rally going with a single up the middle to drive in Candelaria for a 6-0 lead.
Fresno put a rally together in the third. The No. 9 batter singled to right and went to second on an infield single. The next batter grounded into a 6 (Monge)-4 (Ivan Ponce)-3 (Nicholas Sweet) double play to clear the bases. Palacioz got another grounder to Monge to finish out the inning.
Palacioz got a double play to get out of the fourth and another in the seventh. Ironically both of those double plays helped erase baserunners that reached on an error.
Madera kept Fresno busy with runners on base in the fifth and sixth inning. With one out in the sixth, Marcus DeFranco struck out, but reached on a wild pitch.
Zavala followed with a grounder to third, but a wild throw to try to force DeFranco at second allowed both runners to be safe. A wild pitch put runners at second and third. After a groundout, Monge was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Palacioz battled with the bases loaded, but grounded out eight pitch to end the inning.
Fresno put a rally together in the sixth when the first two batters singled. Palacioz got a liner to centerfielder Zavala and a flyout to left fielder Murillo. The next batter ripped a double down the left field line to drive in a run.
The Fresno runner from first tried to score, Monge’s relay throw from Murillo to Flores at the plate was on target to tag out the runner despite an elbow to Flores going by to end the inning.
However, Madera put the game away in the seventh inning by scoring five times and sending 10 runners to the plate.
Candelaria led off the inning with a single to center. Ponce forced Candelaria at second. Murillo was hit by a pitch.
Both runners came in to score when Flores doubled down the right field line. Flores advanced to third on a wild pitch.
After a strikeout, Zavala singled home Flores and went to second on a Wattenbarger single.
After a change in pitchers, Zavala scored on Monge’s single up the middle with Wattenbarger taking third. Palacioz singled to left to drive in Wattenbarger for an 11-2 lead.