Holiday captures City title


Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune

Holiday Muffler gathers around home plate to celebrate a 3-1 victory over McDonald’s in the Madera Little League City Championship game. Manager Steve Gallegos (back row, right) earned his second City Championship title.

 

In a classic Madera Little League City Championship game, Madera American Little League champion Holiday Muffler scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and held onto a 3-1 victory over Madera National Little League champion McDonald’s.


Jake Guerra tossed a one-hitter and allowed one run over six innings for Holiday Muffler. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out 12.


However, the three pitchers for McDonald’s were equally dominant. They combined to allow just one hit and struck out 11 batters. However, it was two runs without the benefit of a hit that gave Holiday the lead for good.


“There is never a chance to not worry,” Holiday Muffler manager Steve Gallegos said. “They are a good team. You keep grinding until the last out. Hopefully, the defense stays in tact.”


Juan Gil got the only hit for Holiday Muffler and Estevan Gonzalez banged a double off the centerfield fence to drive in McDonald’s only run that tied the score in the fourth inning.


“There was some worry when they tied the score,” Gallegos said. “Tight games, you never know what is going to happen. Our defense stepped up. Not only did Jake pitch well, but our defense was stout.”


Holiday Muffler put the first run on the board in the bottom of the first inning. With two outs, Guerra drew a full-count walk.


Gil lined a pitch into right field that advanced Guerra to third. Noah Castillo struck out on a ball in the dirt. The throw to get Castillo at first was wide and went into right field. That allowed Guerra to score the first run of the game.


“That was a big run,” Gallegos said. “When we get ahead with Jake on the mound, we’re tough to beat. It’s an uphill battle for them. Sometimes, it’s insurmountable with him and the way he throws.”


Guerra retired eight batters in a row before hitting Jayce Rios in the fourth inning.


Rios advanced to second on a passed ball, but Guerra got a strikeout and a groundout. However, Gonzalez hit the first pitch he saw in the fourth to deep center that clanged off the middle of the centerfield fence for a loud double. The hit drove in Rios to tie the score before Guerra got a groundout to end the inning.


Holiday Muffler answered back in the bottom of the fourth. Gil led off with a walk and Josh Nazante came in to run for him. Noah Castillo drew another walk to put two on. Ethan Catano laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third with one out.


Nate Ramirez hit a grounder to second. The McDonald’s second baseman looked to throw to second, but there wasn’t a runner heading there. By the time he threw to first, Ramirez beat the throw and Nazante scored the go-ahead run.


On the next pitch, Ramirez took off for second and was easily thrown out trying to steal. However, that gave time for Castillo to score an insurance run for Holiday Muffler.


“The answer back was huge,” Gallegos said. “The bottom of the order has done it all year. They have grinded on these tough pitchers all year. Sometimes they don’t score, but the pitchers have thrown 30 pitches to them. It’s an uphill for the other team, confidence-wise. It’s was a momentum shift for us.”


Guerro retired the side in order in the fifth and struckou the first two batters in the sixth. An error allowed McDonald’s to bring the tying run to the plate — clean-up batter Carlos Gomez.


Gomez hit the first pitch he saw up the middle. Second baseman Rodrigo Osuna played a tricky hop and tossed to second for the force out and give Gallegos his second City Championship.


“They had their clean-up hitter up and it was scary,” Gallegos said. “They got a good hit, but our nine-year-old second baseman made a great play. To see them finish on defense with a nine-year-old is amazing.”