Coyotes avoid sweep with shutout
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Frankie Espejo throws a pitch during Thursday’s victory over the Madera South Stallions. He tossed a three-hit shutout with six strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter to lead the Coyotes to a 4-0 victory over the Stallions at Mel Parker Field.
After they were told they wouldn’t be able to defend its Div. II Central Section championship, the Madera Coyotes baseball team shut out the Madera South Stallions to close out their season at Mel Parker Field.
Junior Frankie Espejo sent the Coyote seniors out winners with a complete game 4-0 shutout. He struck out six, didn’t walk a batter and gave up just three hits.
“Frankie was on tonight,” Madera head coach Andy Underwood said. “That was one of his best games of the year. They are a tough team. They scrap and fight. Frankie was spot on tonight. Everything was running and cutting. He was in and out, up and down and the curveball was good.”
“Hats off to Espejo,” Madera South head coach Alan Sandoval said. “He threw well. We weren’t striking out, but we weren’t barreling anything up. We have to flip the page and turn to the playoffs.”
The Coyotes won the Div. II last year with a three victories on the road. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to defend their championship, but the seniors went out with a win.
“They found out the news that we weren’t going to playoffs on Tuesday,” Underwood said. “We were really relaxed today. We were playing for pride today. The seniors enjoyed the day. They took everything in. It was good to see.
“I’m happy for the seniors. They work hard all year. They got some love and the opportunity to do something. Things went our way tonight. We took advantage of a couple of mistakes. Tonight we were on the offense and not the defense.”
Senior Nick Sweet got a hit in a rare hitting appearance. Jason Corona also had an RBI single. Senior Adam Landero had a single and a double and scored two runs from the lead-off spot.
Madera South got, perhaps, the first series win over Madera in school history after a Tuesday victory. Gilbert Moisa led the Stallions with two hits, but the rest of the line-up generated just one.
“It’s huge to take the series against Madera,” Sandoval said. “It’s a big accomplishment. They are a really good team and we played well against them. It gives us confidence into the playoffs.”
The Stallions will next get ready for the Div. IV playoffs as the No. 5 seed and will host No. 12 Immanuel-Reedley on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.
“We told them to flip the page,” Sandoval said. “It’s now the playoffs. We need to move on and hope to go 4-0.”
Espejo, showed why he is the ace of the Coyotes’ staff and will be looked on to lead the team next year. He allowed just three hits and didn’t allow a baserunner past first base. He allowed a lead-off single in the fourth, but got three straight forceouts at second base to get out of the inning.
Espejo retired the side in three innings, including striking out the side in the seventh to end the game. He also got help from two double plays that ended the first and sixth innings.
Madera took the early lead, which began with a Landero single to left. Logan Wattenbarger singled to center to put two on in the first.
A lineout doubled off Wattenbarger at second, but the Coyotes kept the rally going with a four-pitch walk to Zachary Robbins. Adam Arias singled up the middle to drive in Landero for a 1-0 lead, which was all Espejo needed.
Madera added a run in the bottom of the third, again started by Landero. He hit the first pitch of the third down the left field line for a double. Wattenbarger blooped a 3-0 pitch to shallow right field that dropped to drive in Landero for a 2-0 lead.
Wattenbarger stole second, but Madera South pitcher Jair Alvarez got the next three batters in a row to keep the damage minimal.
Madera added two more runs in the fourth. Tyler Zamora singled to left to lead off the inning. Ivan Castaneda put down a bunt, but the throw to first went into right field and Zamora came in to score while Castaneda took third.
After a strikeout, Corona singled up the middle to drive in Castaneda for a 4-0 lead. Landero sacrificed corona to second and Watterbarger walked, but the next batter flew out to end the inning.
Robbins drew a lead off walk in the fifth, he went to second on a wild pitch and to third on a groundout, but Madera South pitcher Johnathan Spraggins got a groundout to end the inning.